Machined plastics has essentially revolutionized the aerospace industry. Unlike heavier metals, thermoplastic polymers are more resistant to corrosion and can be more durable than glass. They also provide electrical insulation; in fact, some plastics have almost zero conductivity.
Plastic parts are approximately 50% lighter than some metals and less expensive. Thus, it is commonly used to manufacture plane seating, cabin lighting, components of propulsion systems, landing gear, doors, pipes, cable ducts and more.
Due to the versatility of plastics and the ingenuity of aerospace engineers, planes and their components can be manufactured at a lower cost and weight, which greatly reduces fuel costs.
Plastics used in aerospace applications must have high-performance characteristics, such as being able to endure extreme temperatures without changing shape, insulating against electricity, and marked flame resistance.
PEEK (Polyetheretherketone) and Torlon are the most commonly used plastics in the aerospace industry. PEEK—a semi-crystalline, organic thermoplastic polymer—can be found in valve seats and pump gears because of its low flammability, creep resistance and ability to endure high water pressure and temperatures exceeding 400°F.
Torlon is often used to replace metal, because it has good creep, low thermal expansion and because it is one of the highest performing melt-processible thermoplastics available. It can also withstand temperatures up to 500°F.
Thermoplastic polymers have proven to be a versatile and powerful material for the aerospace industry and beyond.
Aerospace Supplier Requirements