Aerospace Plastics For Aircraft Plastic Components | Aerospace & Defense

Plastics cover a broad field of organic synthetic resin and may be divided into two main classifications – aerospace thermoplastics _ and aerospace thermosetting plastics. Thermoplastics may be softened by heat and can be dissolved in various organic solvents.Aerospace Thermoplastics.Thermoplastics may be softened by heat and can be dissolved in various organic solvents. Two kinds of transparent thermoplastic materials are commonly employed in windows, canopies, etc. These are known as acrylic plastics and cellulose acetate plastics. Cellulose acetate was used in the past but since it is dimensionally unstable and turns yellow after it has been installed for a time, it has just about passed from the scene and is not considered an acceptable substitute for acrylic. Acrylic plastics are known by the trade names of Lucite or Plexiglas and by the British as Perspex and meet the military specifications of MIL-P-5425 for regular acrylic, MIL-P-8184 -~ 184 for craze-resistant acrylic.Aerospace Thermosetting Plastics.


Thermosetting plastics do not soften appreciably under heat but may char and blister at temperatures of 240 to 260 ‘C (400 to 500 °F). Most of the moulded products of synthetic resin composition, such as phenolic, urea-formaldehyde, and melamine formaldehyde resins, belong to the thermosetting group. Once the plastic becomes hard, additional heat will not change it back into a liquid as it would with a thermoplastic.Storage and handling.Because transparent thermoplastic sheets soften and deform when they are heated, they must be where the temperature will never be excessive.Aerospace thermoforming.Transparent acrylic plastics get soft and pliable when they are heated to their forming temperatures and can be formed to almost any shape. When they cool, they retain the shape to which they were formed. Acrylic plastic may be cold-bent into a single curvature if the material is thin and the bending radius is at least 180 times the thickness of the sheet. Cold bending beyond these limits will impose so much stress on the surface of the plastic that tiny fissures or cracks, called crazing, will form.Forming methods.Simple Curve Forming. Heat the plastic material to the recommended temperature, remove it from the heat source, and carefully drape it over the prepared form. Carefully press the hot plastic to the form and either hold or clamp the sheet in place until it cools. This process may take from ten minutes to one-half hour. Do not force-cool it.Compound-Curve Forming.This type of forming is normally used for such parts as canopies or complex wingtip light covers, and it requires a great deal of specialized equipment. There are four commonly used methods, each having its advantages and disadvantages.Stretch forming. Preheated acrylic sheets are stretched mechanically over the form in much the same way as is done with the simple curved piece. Special care must be taken to preserve uniform thickness of the material, since some parts will have to stretch more than others.


Male And Female Die Forming. This requires expensive matching male and female dies. The heated plastic sheet is placed between the dies which are then mated. When the plastic cools, the dies are opened.Aerospace Vacuum Forming Without Forms. Many aircraft canopies are formed by this method. In this process a clamp with an opening of the desired shape is placed over a vacuum box and the heated sheet of plastic is clamped in place. When the air in the box is evacuated, the outside air pressure will force the hot plastic through the opening and form the concave canopy. It is the surface tension of the plastic that shapes the canopy.Aerospace Vacuum Forming With A Female Form. If the shape needed is other than that which would be formed by surface tension, a female mould, or form must be used. It is placed below the plastic sheet and the vacuum pump is connected. When air from the form is evacuated, the outside air pressure will force the hot plastic sheet into the mould and fill it.

Aerospace Welding and Brazing | Aerospace & Defense

Weld repairs to aircraft and component parts use such equipment as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), plasma arc welding, and oxyacetylene gas welding. When repairs of any flight-critical parts are required, it is extremely important to make the weld repairs equal to the original weld. Identifying the kind of metal to be welded, identifying the kind of welding process used in building the part originally, and determining the best way to make welded repairs are of utmost importance. Aerospace welding certification for personnel in the UK is CAA BCAR A8-10.After the weld is completed, the weld must be inspected for defects. All these things are necessary in order to make an airworthy weld repair.Aircraft welding is one of the three commonly used methods of joining metals without the use of fasteners. Welding is done by melting the edges of two pieces of metal to be joined and allowing the molten material to flow together so the two pieces will become one.Aerospace brazingAerospace Brazing is similar to welding in that heat is used to join the material; but rather than melting, the metal is heated only enough to melt a brazing rod having a much lower melting point. When this brazing rod melts, it wets the surfaces to be joined, and when it cools and solidifies, it bonds the pieces together.


Soldering is similar to brazing except that brazing materials normally melt at temperatures above 425 °C (800 °F), while solders melt at temperatures considerably lower.Aircraft weld repairsThe next step in making aircraft weld repairs is to decide the best process to use, considering the available state-of-the-art welding equipment, and then deciding the correct weld-filler material to use. Before any weld repairs can be made, the metal parts to be welded must be cleaned properly, fitted and jigged properly, and all defective welds must be removed to prepare for an aircraft quality weld repair.Most large business or agencies conduct their own certification tests, or they have an outside testing lab validate the certification tests.Pitfalls are many, for example, when using GTAW equipment, a weld can be contaminated with tungsten if the proper size electrode is not used when welding with direct current reverse polarity. Another example, the depletion of the inert gas supply below the critical level causes a reduction in the gas flow and will increase the danger of atmospheric contamination.Electric welding equipment versatility requires careful selection of the type current and polarity to be used. Since the composition and thickness of metals are deciding factors, the selection may vary with each specific application. Metals having refractory surface oxide films (i.e., magnesium alloys and aluminum and its alloys), are generally welded with alternating current (AC), while direct current (DC) is used for carbon, low alloy, non-corrodible, and heat-resisting steels.Oxyacetylene gas equipment is suitable for welding most metals. It is not, however, the best method to use on such materials as stainless steel, magnesium, and aluminum alloys; because of base metal oxidization, distortion, and loss of ductility.If oxyacetylene is used for welding stainless steel or aluminum, all flux must be removed, as it may cause corrosion.
Clean parts to be welded with a wire brush or other suitable method prior to welding. Do not use a brush of dissimilar metal, such as brass or bronze on steel. The small deposit left by a brass or bronze brush will materially weaken the weld, and may cause cracking or subsequent failure of the weld. If the members are metallized, the surface metal may be removed by careful sandblasting followed by a light buffing with emery cloth.


Visually inspect the completed weld for the following:The weld has a smooth seam and uniform thickness. Visual inspection should be made of the completed weld, to check for undercut and/or smooth blending of the weld contour into the base metal.The following steels are readily weldable; plain carbon (of the 1000 series), nickel steel (of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) 2300 series), chrome-nickel alloys (of the SAE 3100 series), chromemolybdenum steels (of the SAE 4100 series), and low nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel (of the SAE 8600 series).