Up, Up & Away – Epoxy Resin in Aircraft Applications…

While the Joys of Air Travel may be harder to find – Our Planes continue to Advance Technologically…

Remember when air travel was a pleasant experience? Before the long TSA lines where we are now scrutinized, searched and at times, just plain embarrassed? As aircraft technology advances, the flying experience seems to continue to diminish for passengers. So let’s focus on the beneficial ways that our skies are safer today with the integration of modern technology into our planes…

Aircraft construction technology continues to advance with the design and development of lighter and stronger composites that make air travel safer. Typically, composites are a combination of carbon or glass fiber - reinforced with high-performance adhesives like epoxy resin. This combination provides the benefits of unprecedented strength and light weight.

"The polymers most widely used in composites are thermosets, a class of plastic resins that, when cured by thermal and/or chemical (catalyst or promoter) or other means become substantially infusible and insoluble. After cure, a thermoset cannot be returned to its uncured state. Thermoset epoxy resins contribute strength, durability and chemical resistance to a composite," from 'Composites 101: Fibers and resins’ by Jeff Sloan as posted on CompositesWorld.com.

“Primary and secondary structures that comprise modern aircraft are typically combinations of metals and lightweight carbon fiber- or glass fiber-reinforced polymer composites joined using high-performance adhesives. Historically, the adhesive bonding process required joined substrates to be cured in an autoclave to minimize voids and ensure reliable, high-quality parts. This procedure was time consuming as well as capital intensive,” from 'Advancing Adhesives: High-Performance Epoxy Paste for Aircraft Applications.'

Thermoset epoxy adhesives formulated for curing out-of-autoclave (OOA) were developed to meet the needs of the aircraft industry (as well as other industry applications). These polymers are more cost-effective; provide superior adhesion and reinforcement to a variety of substrates; give high chemical and corrosion resistance, as well as good mechanical, thermal and electrical insulation characteristics. They also have minimal shrinkage once cured and low moisture absorption.

As the classic song goes, “Accentuate the positive.” When you fly, keeping positive thoughts about better, safer planes just might help you endure the trials and tribulations around you with a smile on your face! Bon Voyage!

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