Composite materials have been around since 3400 BC, where a Mesopotamian glued different wood strips using wood sap to create plywood – the first-ever known composite material. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that composite materials made their way into the aviation industry.
The first composite material used in an aircraft was fiberglass, where woven glass fibers and resin created an extremely strong and durable composite. Furthermore, it was much lighter, and the end-product could withstand the pressure that the high altitude would subject the aircraft.
From there on, the number of composite materials, advanced composites, and composite engineering grew exponentially.
The potential for innovation that composite materials brought was immense, and engineers were quick to realize it. We shifted from fiberglass to carbon fiber, fiber-reinforced matrix systems, and more. These composites were being used across the globe to create state-of-the-art aircraft.
These aircraft were lighter, more agile, and reduced maintenance costs while immensely increasing passenger, crew, and cargo security. Military aircraft use a range of other composite materials, such as metal and ceramic matrices, aramid fibers, and a range of other titanium, steel, and aluminum alloys.
As more alloys and composite materials started being used throughout the aircraft (from the cockpit to the tail wing) industry, they focused primarily on efficiency and safety above all else. For airliner assembly, comfort and luxury were also primary considerations for the travelers.
Over time, more composite technologies started developing, and the era of advanced composite manifesting, tooling, and precision machining began. These techniques and materials became standard in the industry because of their ability to craft composites accurately down to the last millimeter.
Precision machining and tooling combined with the composite materials meant that the material had an extremely smooth finish, which further helped maneuver and reduces drag. Aircraft began getting faster after that, and warfare also changed because of material flexibility and increased aerodynamics.
The aviation sector has enjoyed numerous benefits from composite materials, and the innovation has opened an equal number of new doors for every manufacturer out there. If you would like to learn more about how composite materials or associated techniques can help you or need a FREE QUOTE, give Pacific Aerospace Corp (PAC) a call!