Author(s): Mangalgiri PD
Fibre-reinforced polymer composite materials are fast gaining ground as preferred materials for construction of aircraft and spacecraft. In particular, their use as primary structural materials in recent years in several technology-demonstrator front-line aerospace projects world-wide has provided confidence leading to their acceptance as prime materials for aerospace vehicles. This paper gives a review of some of these developments with a discussion of the problems with the present generation composites and prospects for further developments. Although several applications in the aerospace sector are mentioned, the emphasis of the review is on applications of composites as structural materials where they have seen a significant growth in usage. The focus of the paper is especially on the developments on the Indian aerospace scene. A brief review of composites usage in aerospace sector is first given. The nature of composite materials behaviour and special problems in designing and working with them are then highlighted. The issues discussed relate to the impact damage and damage tolerance in general, environmental degradation and long-term durability. Current solutions are briefly described and the scope for new developments is outlined. In the end, some directions for future work are given.