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The Carbon Fiber Magic for Planes

The Carbon Fiber Magic for Planes

When it comes to cost-efficiency in airliners, the lighter they are, the more money they save. A heavier plane consumes more fuel and results in higher operational costs. The drive to up fuel-efficiency and enhance the aerodynamic performance of any new aircraft is now leading aircraft designers to gravitate away from using aluminum in the airframes. Instead the latest planes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 rely on very lightweight carbon-fiber composites. These are mats of woven carbon that have been encased in plastic.

A matter of strength

The one huge benefit of using this material is that it is amazingly strong for its weight. The carbon fibers are mixed to form a matrix and this matrix is generally some kind of plastic. The plastic by itself has no inherent strength but the carbon fibers lend it immense strength. Airbus, the European  aircraft manufacturer has for long been working with the national composites Center in Britain on research and modeling of various new materials and industrial designs. The concept behind all this effort is simple. Taking even a kilogram of weight off an aircraft can mean significant saving over the life of the aircraft.

More fuel savings

This material is now being used in certain parts of aircraft wings. These parts are the ones that take on the major impact of the air. But this carbon fortified composite is strong and even a sledgehammer can bounce off it. This material can also be molded very well and this optimizes the aerodynamic performance of an aircraft. The use of these new materials is also opening up many other potential savings. For instance, a super jumbo aircraft has close to 6 million parts but with some more development in place, this number can be cut down considerably. Fewer components will shorten the manufacturing time which will subsequently result in savings.

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