Last week, the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) hosted its inaugural Composites Executive Forum, which connected composites industry executives with market development leaders to share ideas about growing the composites industry and entering new markets. Gail Hahn, technical fellow and program manager at Boeing Research and Technology, presented at the “What OEMs Need from Composites” panel held on Wed, April 2.
CM Interviews caught up with Ms. Hahn to discuss her experience at the Composites Executive Forum and learn about the ways in which composites can be useful to OEMs like Boeing.
You recently participated in the Composites Executive Forum. Where do you see the most potential for future partnerships with the composites industry?
Boeing has industry leading expertise in the development and use of polymer matrix composites including short fiber reinforced molding compounds. Significant overlap exists with automotive and industrial applications. In these areas, multiple parts per airplane justify our investment in short cycle time processing and tooling in support of production numbers in the tens of thousands of parts per year. This includes interior components, system components, brackets and other parts. Parts of this nature, in which short fiber reinforced composites are employed, have offered the opportunity for demonstrations incorporating recycled materials.
In your presentation, you mentioned recycling as an area of interest in emerging programs. How might recyclable materials have a better chance of being considered for use on an aircraft?
Materials are evaluated for use on Boeing products on an application specific basis. Depending on the application, recyclability could be considered as a selection factor given that a material meets all other safety, environmental, performance and cost criteria. Ideally, recyclable materials could present a life cycle cost advantage by eliminating or reducing landfill costs.