Last month, the nation celebrated Aviation Day, recognizing the scientific and technological advancements that continue to impact our world today. Making those leaps and bounds possible is steel, among other alloys including titanium and aluminum.
Aircraft design as evolved since the Wright Brothers took their first flight in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Now, a variety of material is used to create a plane’s major structures from the wings to the fuselage. While wood was used on most early airplanes because of its lightweight yet strong nature, alloys including steel, aluminum and titanium are most common today.
Because steel is very strong, it is favored for airplane components such as the landing gear or even as the outer skin of some planes. Steel is stiffer and keeps its strength even at high temperatures which make it ideal.
Aluminum – blended with other metals – is most commonly used in aircraft manufacturing because it is lightweight and strong. Plus, the material doesn’t corrode as easily as steel does. A downside to aluminum construction is that it can become very hot quickly minimizing its strength. Planes flying fast – faster than the speed of sound – become very hot, so aluminum can’t be used in the construction.
Although it’s not as light as aluminum, titanium is about as strong. It can also hold its strength at high temperatures and resist corrosion better than aluminum and steel. Although titanium is most expensive, it is often used in aircraft construction.
A more modern material used in airplane construction is graphite-epoxy. Consisting of strong fibers held together by a resin, the material can be stacked in different ways to become strong and stiff. It’s also lightweight, coming in at about half the weight of aluminum.
Aircrafts are designed to safely fly people all around the world. How and what they’re constructed with help the aircraft resist buckling and other damage that can be a detriment to those onboard. Although your project might not be as high stress as building an aircraft, choosing the right material is just as important so what you’re constructing has integrity. Texas Iron & Metal is proud to be able to help you determine exactly what material you need. Call us today at 713.672.7595 or stop by our stockyard – our sales representatives are ready to assist you!