Flexible Printed Electronics to Revolutionize Aerospace Industry

Flexible Printed Electronics in Aircrafts
An Airbus A350 with carbon fiber themed livery. Polymer based fiber are widely used across modern aircraft

There’s plenty of discussion about how printed flexible electronic devices can be used in the field of transportation and with a great focus on the automobile market. But, there are plentiful opportunities in aviation. In this article, Linepro has presented how printed flexible electronic devices can be revolutionary in aircraft.

Fact Check: A typical passenger plane has around 100 kilometers of cables. Simply put, it represents the cable length from the ground up to the Karman line, the starting point of space! Clearly, this huge quantity of cables translates into an expensive cost and increased lead times during the design, installation, and maintenance.

Linepro investigated how to lower these ongoing costs and decrease the total number of cables.

Our Printed Flexible Electronics components will result in cost savings and lower customizing efforts through automation of the production of harnesses. More integrated components will also allow for a more efficient design of the electrical system of the cabin. This helps reduce the large quantities of cables required and lowers the ultimate weight of the airplane structure.

Given the rising demand for passenger aircraft, it is necessary to have the best manufacturing practices to increase production efficiency.

Nowadays, cable harnesses’ production and installation depend on human labor. Because harnesses are produced in foreign countries (countries where manual labor is cheap), it may take a few weeks following the order until harnesses arrive at the manufacturing setups. With high-quality printers and screen printing facilities (which Linepro proudly has in its manufacturing facility), printed electronics could answer the need for greater efficiency and facilitate final modifications to the highly custom-designed cabins.

Reinforced Fiber integrated with Printed Flexible Electronics Components

Printed Flexible Sensors for temperature, strain or pressure measurement can be incorporated into fiber-reinforced polymers for the aerospace industry. Heating elements can be integrated with polymers or other materials like glass and metals. These heating elements are popularly known as Printed Flexible Heaters.

There has been a high demand for polymer-reinforced fibers over the last decade. One of the most important markets for this is aviation. Half of the aircraft in use are now constructed of carbon fiber and glass fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP or GFRRP), which results in using about 100 tons of fiber-reinforced substances.

Polymer-reinforced fibers are greatly preferred for aircraft construction as it is lightweight and strong. This means that a significant amount and fuel consumption can reduce the mass of an aircraft, and the cost of fuel can be reduced.

Furthermore, highly customized design and manufacturing have become a norm in aviation manufacturing. Individual designs of the products are used not just in the aircraft’s inside but all of the structures. But, integrating these unique design concepts into the chain of manufacturing processes is a major problem. This conflict between process chains for mass manufacturing and small batch sizes that are simultaneous is possible to resolve with the integration of printed electronics functions with fiber composites by using laser and digital printing technologies.

Smart systems integration in aviation

By integrating printed electronics and sensors in fiber-reinforced plastics, for instance, fiber defects in high-stress FRP materials can be identified, reducing the risk of failure that occurs suddenly. The possibility of smaller dimensions and lower risk factors for safety can lessen costs. By incorporating flexible printed heaters with sensor mechanisms, self-readable sensors and features can considerably reduce maintenance procedures to prevent icing.

Signage inside an aircraft

Signage installed in aircraft can be incorporated with flexible printed electronics. The exit and lavatory signage panel has 128 components and takes 5 hours for complete assembly for a trained professional. It is observed if we employ printed electronics, we can drastically reduce the weight of the signage panel by four times the actual. The number of components is reduced, and so are the pricing and component suppliers. 

Want Linepro’s expertise to find a solution?

Linepro is a leading designer, consultant, and manufacturer of Flexible Printed Electronics components. Be it aerospace, automobile, or industrial, we can cater to the printed electronics needs of every industry. Share your details with us to help you find the best available solutions.

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