Any substance created from two or more constituent materials is referred to as a composite material. These constitutional elements are combined to produce a material with characteristics that are distinct from the material of origin. The physical, as well as chemical properties of composites, are hence noted to be vastly different from the materials that are originally used to construe the same.
Composites are noted to find extensive applications across the aerospace and defense supply chain as well as the value chain. This is predominantly due to their high strength and stiffness-to-density ratios, as well as their exceptional physical qualities, composite materials are particularly appealing for use in aviation and aerospace applications.
In a tough resin matrix, a combination of stiff and strong fibers makes up a composite material. As mentioned, the density to stiffness ratio varies with the application of choice. Carbon- and glass-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP and GFRP, respectively), are more well-known artificial composite materials used in aerospace and other industries. They are known to be predominantly composed of carbon and glass fibers and a polymer matrix. The properties of these materials form a perfect amalgamation of stiffness to density ratio thus increasing the malleability and ductility of these materials. The use of composites is hereby poised to reduce the number of aircraft components required owing to the increased flexibility offered by the material hence reducing both the assembly time as well as the propensity for human error.
Major factors driving the growth of the market
One of the main drivers of this market is the growing trend toward green technology and the adoption of practices to minimize carbon footprint. The production of lightweight components will consequently optimize fuel consumption and the emissions thereby produced, hence enabling the aerospace industry to successfully implement green initiatives. The use of composites is crucial for creating sturdy yet lightweight components, addressing problems like reducing an aircraft’s fuel consumption by reducing its overall weight and minimizing carbon dioxide emissions which are two of the main challenges encountered by the airline sector.
The increased proliferation of technologies like 3D printing is another factor that is poised to drive the growth associated with the aerospace composites market. The use of this technology is anticipated to reduce human error and hereby automate the process associated with the production of components.
Trends influencing the growth of the market
As mentioned, composites can be shaped into complex structures as opposed to their metallic counterparts. This decreases the number of parts that make up a particular component as well as the requirement for fasteners and joints, which has the dual benefits of reducing the number of these parts while also decreasing the number of fasteners and joints, which can reduce assembly time. A rivet requires a hole, which is a stress concentration and potential crack-initiation site. Contrarily, the shorter assembly time can be offset by the time needed to make the component.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) projects that both passenger and freight traffic should quadruple by 2035. An increase in middle-class disposable income and the emergence of low-cost airlines are two factors that have contributed to an increase in airline passengers. The demand for in-flight entertainment and connectivity services has grown significantly along with the increase in airline passengers. The number of passengers flying has increased in major nations like Canada, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia, and India. When people seek to escape the monotonous routine that has emerged as the “new normal” in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, this behavior is referred to as revenge travel or tourism. It also results from a condition known as “lockdown fatigue,” or exhaustion that worsens as a result of monotony. These factors significantly increase the demand for composites in aerospace market.
Composites are also widely used across the aerospace domain as per the marketers. For instance, the lightweight of this material makes it particularly conducive to applications within the aerospace domain. The material has been extensively used in the design of cryogenic tanks which are identified as cost-effective alternatives for sending payloads into orbit. Cryogenic tanks were previously made of metals or composite materials with metal linings. However, a 5.5m-diameter CFRP cryogenic tank has been developed by NASA and Boeing. It is among the biggest, lightest, and first, all-composite cryogenic tanks ever created.
This innovation was a step toward creating an 8.4m-diameter tank, which was intended to optimize the weight of rocket tanks and save launch costs by 25%. The 8.4m-diameter tank was to be built using the out-of-autoclave method.