Aeronautical materials

An Introduction

The aeronautical industry is unquestionably the greatest test for engineering materials. Where other industries have a singular key requirement that the materials used have to adhere to, the aeronautical industry has manifold requirements- often simultaneously. Not only is there the construction of the aircraft itself to consider- and these are heavy vehicles- there are also positive and negative pressures, stress and strain, yaw and torque, along with the greatest of extremes of temperature. Each material selected must be absolutely correct for the purpose it has been chosen to serve- this is not an industry where you can afford to cut corners.

aluminium

Aluminium in Aviation

Aluminium usage in aeronautics goes back as far as the aeronautical industry itself. Indeed, the Wright brother's struggle to find an engine with the specifications they required for their Wright Flyer, namely a weight of 90Kg and a power output of 8hp, lead them to develop their own engine using a cast aluminium block. The use of this material and their ingenuity surpassed even their own expectations, creating an engine which weighed 77Kg and offered 12hp, without which, history may not have been made that December day. Its low mass, high strength and sheer breadth of alloys suitable to meet the physical requirements of air travel make it absolutely essential to almost all aircraft's construction.

Wrought

Grade

2014

 2024 

6061

7050

7075

Use

Aircraft structures

Wings/Fuselage

Wings/Fuselage

Aircraft structures

Aircraft structures

Cast

Grade

201.0

355.0

242.0

A242.0

356.0

Use

Aerospace housings

Aircraft fittings

Turboprop pistons

Aircraft parts

Aircraft castings

Grade

359.0

B295.0

360.0

354.0

520.0

Use

Aircraft castings

Aircraft fittings

Aircraft castings

Aircraft castings

Aircraft fittings

nickel

Nickel in Aviation

Nickel-based Superalloys are used primarily in an aircraft's jet engine. The reasons for this are that they have excellent creep resistance, high yield strength, high thermal fatigue resistance and hot corrosion resistance. The combination of these properties make them ideal for a environment where they are subjected to significant rotating stresses at high temperatures.

Use

Turbine Blades

Turbine Nozzles

Combustors

Turbine wheels

Grades

U500, U700, 738, GTD 111

X 40, X 45, N 155, GTD222

Alloy X, N 263, Alloy 188

706, 718

steel

Steel in Aviation

In the early days of aviation, much of an aircraft would have been constructed from steel. As materials technology advanced, it was quickly superceded by lighter, stronger and more heat resistant materials. However, some stainless steels were deemed indispensable and are still used in manufacturing high strength shafts and jet engine components.

Use

Turbine Wheels

Compressor blades

Combustors

Grade

Cr-Mo-V, A286, M-152

403, 403Nb, GTD 450

309

titanium

Titanium in Aviation

If there was one metal which could be lauded as being fundamental to the aviation industry, It would be Titanium. High strength, good modulus, corrosion resistant, creep resistant, stable at high temperatures... there's nothing that Titanium can't do. As such, you will find it across a plane's structure - from the fuselage to the landing gear and everywhere between.

Use

Air Frame / Structural components

General aircraft components

Ducting and hydraulic tubing

Jet engine components

Gas turbine components

Landing gear

Fasteners

Helicopter rotor head

Grade

Grade 1, Grade 6, Ti-5Al-2.5Sn, Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo-0.1Si, Grade 5, Grade 23, Ti-6Al-6V-2Sn, Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo, Ti-4Al-4Mo-2Sn-0.5Si, Ti-6Al-2Sn-2Zr-2Mo-2Cr-0.5Si, Ti-4.5Al-3V-2Mo-2Fe, Ti-10V-2Fe-3Al

Grade 2, Ti-6Al-7Nb

Grade 4

Grade 6, Ti-5Al-2.5Sn, Grade 8, Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo-0.1Si, Grade 5, Ti-6Al-6V-2Sn,Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo, Ti-4Al-4Mo-2Sn-0.5Si, Grade 20

Grade 6, Ti-5Al-2.5Sn, Grade 8, Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo-0.1Si,  Ti-6Al-2Sn-4Zr-2Mo, Ti-4Al-4Mo-2Sn-0.5Si, Ti-4.5Al-3V-2Mo-2Fe, Ti-5Al-4Cr-4Mo-2Sn-2Zr

Grade 5, Ti-10V-2Fe-3Al

Grade 19

Ti-10V-2Fe-3Al

carbon fibre

Carbon Fibre in Aviation

A true spage age material, Carbon Fibre is invaluable to the aviation industry. It is strong, rigid, easy to form, yet very lightweight. It is now used so ubiquitously that the most recent passenger 'planes have managed to use Carbon Fibre for up to 52% of the aircraft's overall weight, allowing it to fly further, faster, with more passengers, whilst using less fuel.

Carbon Fibre is used to manufacture the following aircraft components: Fuselage, Wing Sections, Tail section, Turbine blades, Jet engine cowls.

aramids

Aramids in Aviation

Whilst relatively new, Aramids are now a very common feature in aeroplanes. They are strong, light weight, easy to form, have excellent puncture and abrasion resistance, whilst also having superior heat retarding capabilities. The versatility of Aramids mean that they are found utilising different functions of their properties on different parts of the same 'plane, including:

Puncture protection in tyres and fuel tanks, helicopter rotor blades, brake linings, fire prevention barriers and structures, fireproof suits for pilots and electrical insulation.

Integ Metals // Industries // Aeronautical
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