CW Blog

The markets: Aerospace (2020)


In 2019, the global commercial aerospace industry was shaped and dominated by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, which was precipitated by the crash of two 737 MAX aircraft, one in late 2018 and the other in early 2019. The cause of the crashes, which killed more than 300 people, was an automated flight control system Boeing developed specifically for the 737 MAX. Boeing has committed significant resources to correcting the automated flight control system. As of mid-December 2019, longer-than-expected re-certification has led to a suspension of 737 MAX production beginning in January 2020.

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Looking back at 2019 webinars


Here at CompositesWorld, we host many webinars per year with industry leaders and companies alike, presenting ideas and topics that capture the essence of the industry: always learning and always adapting. With CW, the webinar topics range from structural adhesives to automated fiber placement (AFP) to thermoplastics to composites repair, and much more.

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Composites 2020: A multitude of markets


The manufacturing world likes to think of composites fabrication as a single, global entity that operates to serve its customers’ needs with a variety of highly engineered parts and structures. In reality, however, the composites industry is an amalgamation of many highly vertical markets — aerospace, automotive, marine, consumer, wind, etc. — that consume composite materials in a variety of different ways. This usage is driven by part performance requirements, cost thresholds, regulations and customer demand. For instance, the material, process and cost parameters in commercial aerospace manufacturing are substantially different than the material, process and cost parameters in recreational boatbuilding.

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Continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites enable wheel blade for all-electric SUV


Spoke-like blade inserts for automotive wheels, also known as wheelblades, have become a popular tool for design engineers looking to boost the aesthetics and aerodynamics of the wheel. While carbon fiber is a popular material choice for these non-structural parts,  many designers are looking to showcase the material in different ways besides the traditional woven look that is typically used for exterior components and accent areas. Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany; Shanghai, China) recently announced that its Maezio continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composites are being used in the production of a composite wheeblade used on the aluminum wheels for the ES6 and ES8 all-electric SUVs manufactured by NIO (Shanghai, China). The material gives OEMs and designers a new alternative to the traditional woven look of carbon fiber, offering a unique appearance with unidirectional carbon fiber optics and a variety of finishing options.

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One-piece, one-cure, infused carbon fiber wheel is ready to roll

Carbon fiber wheels offer a range of benefits by reducing rotational inertia and the combined mass — known as the unsprung mass — of a vehicle’s wheels, suspension and other directly connected components not supported by the suspension. This reduction in rotational inertia and unsprung mass, which can be as high as 50%, typically results in faster acceleration with less effort, reduced braking distance, improved handling due to better contact with the road (mechanical grip) and reduced road noise.

But the price tags on carbon fiber wheels — both hybrid and all-composite — have kept them out of reach of many consumers. With the most affordable priced at more than $10,000 for a set, the wheels are likely to only be found on very high-end sports cars and luxury vehicles. Several wheel companies, however, recognize the market potential for a lower-priced carbon fiber wheel and are working toward finding a solution. Approaches vary from the materials used to the way wheel components are manufactured and combined. Some combine carbon fiber components with aluminum for a hybrid wheel. Some create wheels from prepreg. 

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