British Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas AV-8 A/B Harrier - by William D. Siuru

By William D. Siuru

Colour AND BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS;
HISTORY,
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107, No. 24, pp. 68–70. 13 This Page is Intentionally Left Blank Chapter 2 Aluminum Manufacturing Technology for Aerospace Structural Materials A typical material distribution for a modern commercial airliner, shown in Fig. 1, illustrates the heavy dominance of aluminum alloys. The attractiveness of aluminum is that it is a relatively low cost, light weight metal that can be heat treated to fairly high strength levels, and it is one of the more easily fabricated of the high performance materials, which usually results in lower costs.

During aging, the alloying elements trapped in solution precipitate to form a uniform distribution of very fine particles. This fine distribution of precipitates strengthens and hardens the alloy by creating obstacles to dislocation movement. Some aluminum alloys will harden after a few days at room temperature – a process called natural aging, while others are artificially aged by heating to an intermediate temperature. Consider the aluminum–copper system shown in Fig. 2. If an alloy of aluminum containing 4% copper is heated to 940 F and held for 1 h, the copper will go into solution in the aluminum.

Iron and nickel provides strength with only a little loss in electrical conductivity and are used in a series of alloys for conductors. Aluminum–iron alloys have also been developed for potential elevated temperature applications. The 8XXX series also contains some of the high strength aluminum–lithium alloys which are potential airframe materials. Aluminum–lithium alloys are attractive for aerospace applications because the addition of lithium increases the modulus of aluminum and reduces the density.

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