The aerospace industry has long been a pinnacle of innovation. From cutting-edge manufacturing techniques to technological breakthroughs that directly impact the way passengers experience air travel, the aviation and aerospace sectors are frequently bringing new ideas into the forefront of our imaginations. Here are some of the trends you can expect to see going into 2020 and beyond.
For nearly a century, the aerospace industry has relied heavily on aluminum to fabricate its parts. Relatively inexpensive and durable, this has been the go-to material for airplane manufacturers. No doubt, aircraft require parts that are able to endure extreme temperature fluctuations and exposure to oils and gases. Moreover, aircraft need to be able to protect passengers and cargo from the elements.
However, one of the biggest shifts we’re seeing in recent years is a transition to lightweight, and therefore more fuel-efficient alternatives to metals like aluminum and steel. Manufacturers are noticing huge savings in maintenance and replacement costs for different materials, such as carbon fiber components and silicone rubber. These savings are fueling greater demand for different types of products, specifically with regards to grommets.
Grommets help minimize the transmission of vibration. They’re often found in hydraulic tubing in aircraft and are often made of metal, silicone rubber and plastic. They help acoustically isolate electronic circuit pieces that contend with mechanical jarring or vibration.
With a greater emphasis on environmental considerations, aerospace leaders recognize the need for aircraft engines to release fewer emissions, create less noise and consume less fuel, all the while generating more power.
To do this, manufacturers are seeking ways to enhance the efficiency of combustion engines while also delving into the possibility of electric and hybrid propulsion systems. This becomes a focus of aircraft design, one that is of urgent concern given the rising popularity of drones and urban air mobility vehicles in overpopulated areas.
Data and analytics are playing a growing role in aerospace manufacturing. Such information allows manufacturers to more efficiently manage resources and decrease the time to market. It also allows airlines to better understand their customers and pivot according to consumer behavior. Likewise, customers have come to rely on sites and apps to aggregate the best flights, seats and prices based on data analysis.
Manufacturing parts for the aerospace industry is a highly complex, specialized process. New technologies and processes, however, are making the manufacturing process easier and faster. For instance, the Airbus “Factory of the Future” allows technicians to scan the metal surface with a tablet or smart glass and instantly determine what size of bolt needs to be used or what amount of torque is necessary. From there, a robot performs the work.
Additive manufacturing, or three-dimensional printing, has the potential to make an enormous impact on the aerospace industry. Unlike subtractive manufacturing, wherein a final product is crafted by cutting away from a block of material, additive manufacturing adds layer upon layer to form a final product. This technology allows aerospace engineers the opportunity to develop parts without lengthy material deliveries. After all, it greatly reduces production time and costs by only producing the necessary parts without any increase in costs.
The aerospace industry contributes greatly to the domestic and global economy. It provides thousands of jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector. With the advent of avant-garde trends, including new materials, 3-D printing and electric engines, this market continues to innovate.