Three decades ago, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, commonly known as composite, was beginning to appear in commercial aircraft. It was not cheap and could not, at that time, be applied to anything like an entire airframe. With the Boeing 787, an almost completely composite aircraft is now in service. The problem of cost remains, but a second phase of the composite revolution is now underway, with manufacturers looking for ways of eliminating autoclaves—the costly, energy- hungry ...

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