Editorial Feature

Factors Driving Nanomaterial Developments in the Aerospace and Defense Industry

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Structural materials are a vital area in defense and aerospace. In the last few years, several factors have driven the development and use of enhanced structural materials and manufacturing processes.

Demand for New Products with Unique Performance

New products with exceptional performance are needed to improve standard capabilities, including range, speed, payload, and operating cost, all of which have been served by enhancements to structural materials. In the case of aircraft engine materials, there are demands for increased fuel efficiency and more thrust, which has resulted in lower engine weights, higher working temperatures, and better rotor operating stresses.

Demand for Improved Performance and Extended Life

Space programs provide considerable opportunities to utilize new structural materials to enhance current systems, that is, increase the payload of each mission by decreasing the weight of the shuttle system itself. Improving the structural efficiency and using lighter, sturdier materials can best realize such weight reductions. There is also a need to tackle age-related issues such as corrosion, fatigue cracking, and wear.

The Desire of Aerospace Manufacturers for New Materials

Aerospace manufacturers are keen on adopting new materials that provide even the slightest reduction in weight, and the preference for lighter planes continues to push the demand for advanced materials in the aerospace commercial space. Nanostructural materials exhibit remarkable potential for structural applications. Composite materials have been extensively used by the defense and aerospace industries because of their greater performance properties.

The Current and Future Applications of Nanocomposites

Nanocomposites are already being used in car manufacturing and are realizing 10%–15% weight and strength improvements, with a further potential of 20%–25%. Nanotechnology also holds promises for noteworthy contributions to the issues related to the aging civilian and military rotorcraft and aircraft fleets.

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