How Stainless steel plays a vital role in the aerospace industry?
Stainless steel as we all know is 100% recyclable, easy to clean and used in many industries including culinary, medical, architecture, automotive and aircraft etc.
The modern aerospace industry is an epitome of technology and engineering has been using stainless steel as an integral part of their design. Aircraft need to be built durable, efficient and safe and should use the best raw materials available.
For years, the aircraft industry was relying on aluminium as its raw material but now it is replaced by premium and high-grade stainless steel and its alloy which are stronger and more affordable and ensures safe and reliable travel than ever before.
Advantages of using Stainless Steel in Aircraft:
Aircraft, as we all know, carry hundreds of people at high altitudes over long distances and therefore, it is important that every material used should be extremely reliable. Stainless steel is a strong metal and easy to work with and has found many applications in aerospace.
SS steel is recognized for its excellent corrosion resistance. Each grade of SS can withstand extreme atmospheric environments with least corrosion, while the high-performance grades can resist corrosion in acid, alkaline and marine environments. As airplanes are exposed to all sorts of climatic conditions, the more resistant to corrosion the better they are.
Another characteristic of stainless steel is that it is one of the strongest metals and when mixed with certain alloys, shows significant strengthening options. Stainless steel offers a high strength-to-weight ratio, which is also an important requirement in aircraft.
Other advantages of stainless steel include heat and fire resistance, bright, aesthetic appearance, and excellent hygiene qualities. Stainless steel can also be fabricated easily, making it an important consideration with respect to various parts of an aircraft that must be welded, machined, or cut to precise specifications. Finally, stainless steel alloys offer extreme impact resistance, an important factor when it comes to the safety and durability of large aircraft.
HOW IS STAINLESS STEEL USED IN MODERN AIRCRAFT?
Stainless steel in the aerospace industry is highly versatile and can be used for any metallic part found on an aircraft. However, aluminium is often the first choice for many airline parts because of cost and weight. Airplane industry is increasingly dependent on stainless steel manufacturers for certain parts that need higher performance.
For example, the fuel tanks on many airplanes are made from stainless steel as not only are fuel tanks exposed to extremely corrosive materials but also must be able to withstand high temperatures and protect from structural damage. This same reason extends to exhaust components, engine parts, and other crucial systems related to the airplane’s power source.
MOST COMMON ALLOY OF SS USED IN AIRCRAFT
Many stainless steel grades and alloys are found in different parts of modern aircraft. The most popular stainless steel alloy is SS 304. This stainless steel grade is known to be weldable, formable, and machinable with good corrosion resistance. It is found in many applications including aircraft tubing, wiring, sheet metal, and more.
Another high-performance alloy found in aerospace is SS 321 as it is alloyed with titanium. The alloy can stand extreme temperatures in the range of 800 to 1500°F and still remains stable. Aircraft industries include jet engines, exhaust ducts, piston engines, afterburners, flash boilers etc.
Also popular is alloy SS 316. This particular grade is especially renowned for its corrosion resistance in marine environments. Apart from that 410 and 413 are also used.
Usage of SS
Aerospace-grade stainless steel application includes:
The body of an aircraft also known as an airframe needs to be strong and must withstand extreme temperatures and should be able to resist corrosion. Maven Stainless steel is the perfect solution, as it is highly durable and can protect an aircraft from damage.
- Jet Engines and exhaust components
The engine is the heart of the aircraft. Stainless steel is used in jet engines because it contains alloy chromium which when combined with oxygen creates a layer of oxide which helps in preventing weathering, deterioration and rust. The corrosion resistance and higher temperature tolerance of stainless steel can lead to better life and performance.
- Landing gears
Landing gear plays an important role in a successful flight. Maven stainless steel is used in many landing gears as it is strong and rigid. The high tensile strength of stainless steel makes it suitable for absorbing the impact stresses that landing gear equipment must endure.
- Key Superstructure Joints
Stainless steel in the aerospace industry is used in important joints to increase the durability and strength of the craft.
Stainless Steel Versus Aluminum for Aircraft Applications
Aluminium has been used as a raw material for making aircraft components because of its characteristic of high tensile strength, relatively lightweight and easy to fabricate in addition to strong corrosion resistance. Pure aluminium also has a relatively low cost compared to many metal alloys.
The ultimate tensile strength (UTS) of aluminium can fluctuate based on what material it is alloyed with. However, aluminium is having a high strength or UTS compared to plain steel at low temperatures.
However, when we compare aluminium with stainless steel, it’s important to understand the exact steel grade used. This is because there are different formulations of stainless steel made by Stainless steel manufacturers and each of these alloys has its own unique characteristics.
For example, grade 304 has a higher ultimate tensile strength than aluminium but weighs nearly triple the weight of aluminium. Additionally, 304 grade of stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion and is used in the aircraft industry.
While stainless steel alloys are heavier than aluminium, they have high tensile strength and melting point than aluminium which make them suitable for aircraft parts.
As understood, stainless steel plays a pivotal role in the aircraft industry today. When it comes to ultimate tensile strength, it ranks higher than aluminium and takes the weight of the craft. The higher temperature resistance and corrosion-resistant make it a suitable raw material for aerospace parts.
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