Advanced Structural Materials & Manufacturing Technology

Disrupting modern applications with breakthrough technologies

The evolution of aviation has been a topic of discussion for more than 2,000 years. From fixed glider wings to supersonics and unmanned aircraft, use of new materials and technologies have made modern flight better, safer and more efficient than ever before.

At Collins Aerospace, we see the value and importance in creating aircraft components that are lightweight, support greater fuel efficiency, and are more sustainable. That’s why we’re using advanced materials and innovative manufacturing technologies to create breakthrough products built to operate in harsh environments.

Multifunctional structures

We're taking aero-structural and naval capabilities beyond just the industry norm. Developing and implementing multifunctional structures that incorporate multiple roles within a single package is our expertise, providing customers with the best overall value. Whether it's an acoustically attenuating aerodynamic surface with embedded electrical de-icing or a one-shot composite flight control surface with built-in sensing technology, we're developing the fundamental building blocks to advance aero-structural efficiency. Our focus areas include:

  • Acoustic attenuating structures
  • Acoustically transparent structures
  • Embedded systems (sensors, heater elements)
  • Integral mechanical assemblies (actuation, mechanisms)
  • Functional surfaces (low drag, laminar flow, hydro-ice phobic, corrosion resistance)

Additionally, we have an industry leading naval structures team who concentrates on developing polymer composite technologies for large naval structures and acoustic “windows”. These applications lend themselves to low sound transmission loss and minimized self-noise, which is a great benefit in defense naval structures.

We specialize in polymer formulations for acoustic performance and energy management. These applications lend themselves to sensor encapsulation for sonar arrays, acoustic windows and energy damping products. We also combine our expertise in polyurethanes with composites to offer a variety of flexible matrix composite product options for energy damping applications.

Acoustic inlet
Naval composite-submersible control surface

Thermoplastics composites

Our development in thermoplastic composite materials is enabling step changes in manufacturing efficiency and environmental sustainability in aerospace. Our multiprong technology development approach is establishing a full suite of in-house capabilities necessary to design and manufacture large thermoplastic structural assemblies while achieving:

  • Up to 40% reduced cycle time and 30% reduced cost
  • Fastenerless assemblies
  • Superior toughness and durability
  • Improved temperature and fireproof capability
  • Reduced life cycle carbon footprint

We’re introducing a center of excellence to expedite these developments. This location will also serve as a customer collaboration center – for rapid-prototyping and development.

Curved thermoplastic stiffener

Integrated latch housing

Thermoset composites structures

Building upon more than 40 years of thermoset composites experience, at Collins Aerospace, we’re developing advanced processes that enable manufacturing optimization. Our thermoset technologies provide solutions on platforms ranging in size and complexity from naval components to space vehicles. Our latest advancements in thermosets are moving product lines from energy intensive autoclaves to more efficient and sustainable out-of-autoclave processes like resin pressure molding (RPM). Specifically, RPM offers:

  • Monolithic structures which eliminate fasteners and secondary bonds
  • Toughened prepreg material with consistent fiber volume and superior quality over traditional RPM processes
  • Closed mold results with near-net finish
  • Up to 20% cost reduction relative to metallics
  • Up to 25% weight reduction relative to metallics

Out-of-autoclave RTM flight control surface
Out-of-autoclave RPM flight control surface

High-temperature structures

For high-temperature performance in both acoustic and non-acoustic configurations above the capability of traditional composite and metallic materials, we have a mixture of matured and in-development solutions that include:

  • Vacuum Superplastic Forming (VSPF) and Liquid Interface Diffusion (LID) bond titanium structures
  • BMI composites
  • Polyamide composites
  • Ceramic matrix composites (CMC)
  • Carbon-Carbon (C-C) composites

LID bond titanium and CMC structures have unique applications in commercial aviation to enable propulsive architectures that are pushing the boundaries for fuel efficiency. Applications such as blanketless engine inner fan duct panels or lightweight engine exhausts provide a full lifecycle cost improvement to the end customer.

These ultrahigh performance materials and processes enable a wider range of products in the defense industry such as rocket motor cases, next generation flight and propulsive structures, as well as hypersonic vehicles.

LID bond titanium nacelle structure

Ceramic matrix composite exhaust

Titanium aircraft panel

Acoustic innovations

We have a broad portfolio of design, analysis, test, and manufacturing expertise to develop and produce tailored acoustic structures to minimize noise and drag of propulsion systems.

Whether it’s to minimize the environmental impact or improve the stealth of a military platform, we’re driving groundbreaking approaches in sound attenuation technologies. From multiple degrees of freedom to zoned acoustics and maximizing treatable areas, we’re continuing to develop novel liner solutions optimized through unique acoustic cores, perforation technologies and material types.

Advanced and additive manufacturing

Repeatable superior quality and cycle time efficiencies are driven by our relentless pursuit of continuous improvement. For years this has resulted in expanding our automation manufacturing technologies from metallic assembly and composite layup to inspection and paint. Our pulsing lines supported by operators armed with the latest in digital shop tools are driving efficiency to the next level.

Reducing development time and quicker market introduction is one of the key elements of our value proposition. Additive manufacturing is just one way we’re achieving this through both the use of rapid prototyping and serial production. The benefits of faster cycle times are augmented by the ability to optimize part designs and integrate multiple parts into one lower cost component.

Additive manufacturing cascade
Robotic automated fiber placement (AFP)
Pulsing manufacturing lines
Robotic assembly

Explore this section