US Airforce Look to Composites as Titanium Replacement

The Air Force Research Laboratory and PROOF Research Advanced Composites Division, in Moraine, Ohio, has revealed they are developing computationally derived materials, manufacturing and engineering solutions, including high-temperature polymer matrix composites (PMCs) to replace titanium.

Polymer matrix composites offer up to 40% weight savings over standard titanium structures resulting in annual fuel savings of hundreds of dollars per kilogram of titanium replaced per aircraft in addition to potential increased service life and improved fatigue resistance.

The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research program is providing an additional $750,000 to PROOF ACD to help transition these technologies in support of the Air Force’s Technology Program for Integrated Computational Methods for Composite Materials.

Dr. Brent Volk, the AFRL researcher managing the effort said;

This maturation effort supports the warfighter by providing new capabilities and performance at a reduced cost. It completes development of an advanced materials ‘toolbox’ that includes a higher temperature polyimide matrix composite, a computational process model for the material integrated into a commercial, off-the-shelf software package, validation of the process model on complex geometries, and a materials design-allowable database.

In addition to the SBIR funding, this program leverages more than $1.6 million in funding from industry partners, including Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Triumph Aerostructures. These funds will help ensure the SBIR Phase II effort graduates into a program that successfully transitions its technologies into military or private sectors.