Almost every sector in the economy uses fabricated metals. The rise in demand for these products has led to the growth of the fabrication industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that this growth will add over 12,000 jobs over the next decade.
While the industry is expected to grow, selecting the right metal for your project can be challenging. The amount of different options to consider doesn’t help the situation, either. So, where do you start?
Thin Metal Sales offer various metals including stainless steel, thin aluminum strips, copper and brass metals. These metals play a vital role in aerospace engineering.
When selecting the ideal metal, you have to be cautious. Ensure you understand the respective properties of these metals. For instance, thin aluminum strips have a low density which makes it ideal for lightweight applications. Further, it increases in strength when exposed to low temperatures. Combining aluminum with other elements like copper, magnesium, and silicon forms stronger combined metals.
When using these metals for aerospace engineering applications, you should understand the machining of the parts. Better yet, you need a machining company that produces instrumental aerospace components. Here are the basic tips to consider when selecting a machining company.
1. Its Technological Capability
High precision aerospace components play a vital role in the operation of an aircraft. Most of these components are “life-critical,” which is why they require precise specifications. In the entire process, quality is prioritized as these parts are going to different areas including the landing gear and jet engines. Therefore, there is no room for mistakes.
Machining high-quality components require the use of state-of-the-art equipment. Be sure to check the technology used to avoid engaging under-equipped machining experts. If possible, the machining expert should have the following:
- High-quality machines capable of processing large volumes of metal faster and seamlessly.
- Multi-tasking capabilities that facilitate multiple machining processes in a single operation. It helps improve reliability in the production of aerospace parts.
Engaging a machining company with the required in-house technology reduces the lead time and improves the supply chain to provide consistent and quality parts.
2. High Quality and Precision
Making a mistake is impermissible in the production of aerospace parts. Quality and precision are crucial considerations that require great attention. But how will you know that the machinist can deliver thin aluminum strips, and other components consistently?
- Look for a firm with great experience and reputation in the manufacture of aerospace components or parts.
- The extent and length of the firm’s supply chain is also a consideration. Engage a company that has a reliable source of raw materials. This ensures you get your deliveries on time.
3. Check the Internal Operational Excellence
The internal operations of your ideal machining partner affect all the output operations. Such include timely delivery of your thin aluminum strips.
Other than the equipment in use, workforce productivity plays a major role in ensuring your needs and wants are met. Without these people, the equipment you get cannot offer any competitive edge.
4. Reliability and Cost Effectiveness
As a manufacturer, you want to get all the necessary parts on time. Any delay on a single component slows down the production process. Such encounters make it impossible for buyers to meet their customer’s requirements.
Dealing with correctly machined parts accelerates the speed of production by saving inspection time and reducing buyer issues. However, to enjoy such benefits, you must work with the right machining company.
From aluminum to thin steel sheets to combined metals, the aerospace industry has seen a lot of changes in manufacturing materials. This article will give you a brief historical breakdown of the different materials used in the aerospace manufacturing industry.
Aerospace Manufacturing: Early Years vs. Today
In earlier years, aluminum was the primary metal used in aircraft manufacturing since the metal was lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and very modern at the time. The metal was also very practical since it was malleable and ductile and easy to cut through. Almost 40 years ago, aluminum made up almost 70% of an aircraft, while composites and combined metals, which were relatively new materials at the time, made up about 7% of the craft. Aluminum came in thin sheet metal strips that were later welded and forged to make the fuselage, main engine components and other parts of the plane. Currently, the use of aluminum has drastically reduced to almost 20% because of the entry of combined metals, composites, and carbon fiber into the aerospace industry. In contrast to aluminum, these newer entries are very lightweight and strong and have broad applications in the more aesthetic and less functional parts of a plane like the paneling.
Aluminum still makes up a large portion of the engine and other vital components because it has one very important property. The thin metal strips strike the proper balance between light-weight and heat resistance, making it suitable for engine parts that generate a lot of heat but still light enough to make the craft fuel-efficient.
Steel and the Aerospace Industry
Steel has many diverse applications in a lot of industries, especially in aerospace manufacturing. The US spends about $30 million on steel metals annually, putting stainless steel amongst the metals with the most revenue in the country. The metal which comes in thin steel sheet batches is essential for many aerospace manufacturing companies for two reasons. First, it is resistant to oxidation even at high temperatures and corrosion, and second, they’ll maintain the same mechanical integrity even at low or high-temperature extremes. These attributes make thin steel sheet a very versatile material for a lot of aircraft parts depending on their grade.
AISI 304 and AISI 304L for example of austenitic steel is used to make fuel tanks while AISI 316 and AISI 321 are used for the more high-temperature parts like the exhaust, engine and other structural parts. For the more ambient parts, manufacturers prefer ferritic steel AISI 430 and Autentisic steel AISI 304 for their non-corrosive properties. Just like aluminum, steel comes in thin steel sheet batches that are molded into plane parts and welded into the plane.
New Materials in the Field
When it comes to metals, the term new may not actually mean a new entry. Some of these metals and their alloys have been around for decades, but engineers are finding new ways to combine them or form them to make them extremely cost-effective, light-weight, or durable hence the term new. Titanium 5553 is a perfect example of a relatively fresher entry into the aerospace scene because of its strength and resistance properties. Alcoa, which is also a new alloy, can be found in oxidizers and fuel tanks on both aircraft and space crafts.
The extensive use of metals in aerospace is only growing larger by the decade. Though the future of aerospace is uncertain, what is certain is things are only going to get better.
If you were to say that the discovery of metal is the greatest thing that has ever happened to man, then chances are, you will be right. From transport, communication, health and even in your home or workplace, different metals define your day to day activities.
The world offers you an endless supply of metals which appear in their natural forms such as iron, copper, and silver. However, there is another category of metals known as combined metals. Combined metals play a significant role in the manufacturing of sophisticated items that significantly help humans realize a whole new world of technological advancements.
What are combined metals? These are alloys of two or more naturally occurring metals.
Alloying is done to improve the quality or achieve specific attributes of the metals. These qualities include electrical conductivity, heat resistance, strength, resistance from corrosion by other elements, durability, and other essential attributes. An excellent example of such metals is stainless steel which has several subtypes/specifications such as the ams5510, which is heat and corrosion-resistant.
A research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicted that the metal fabrication industry will grow by 9% in a span of 10 years — from 2016 to 2026. The ever-growing technological advancements and research motivate this growth in areas such as the aerospace industry and the medical fields.
You might be asking yourself, what do these metals have to do with the aerospace industry? Well, these are some of the reasons combined metals are used in the aerospace industry.
Jet and rocket engines produce a lot of heat. Jet engines produce up to 900 degrees Celsius (1650 F) while rocket engines produce heat up to 3200 degrees Celsius (5800 F). Exposure to these levels of heat for a long time can quickly melt most metals.
It is also important to note that at high speeds, aerodynamic friction can generate a lot of heat that can easily lead to melting of metals such as aluminum. Just like aluminum, titanium is lightweight but has a high heat resistance, which makes it the metal of choice when building crafts that are associated with high speeds.
Resistance to corrosion
Corrosion is a chemical process where air reacts with a metal to form the metal’s oxide. This can translate into expensive maintenance costs and a wide range of risks, including fatal accidents. Brass and copper are some of the most commonly used metals to provide corrosion resistance.
In the medical industry, stainless steel is widely used in the manufacture of medical and surgical equipment due to its high resistance to corrosion. This metal is an alloy of several materials that includes molybdenum, nickel, chromium, iron, manganese, and silicon.
Despite offering resistance to corrosion, stainless steel is one of the most durable materials that exist today which makes it ideal in the production of a vast number of medical equipment used in all medical fields. One such stainless steel specification is the ASTM A666.
When you read or hear about electrical conductivity, copper automatically comes to your mind. Copper is a naturally occurring metal and one of the most used metals on the planet. From thin metal strips, copper can be converted into wires or plates to be used in motherboards for equipment used in the medical and aerospace industries.
As mentioned earlier, copper is a naturally occurring element/metal that can be combined with other metals to form alloys such as brass. It can also be recycled for reuse in the manufacturing of communication and electrical equipment.
It is clear that combined metals have been instrumental in the advancement of communication, medical, and aerospace equipment. However, the effectiveness of these metals is as good as the people doing metal fabrication work. Such jobs should be left in the hands of experienced metal fabricators who understand the wide range of products coming from metal manufacturers.