Seals for a Lighter Load

In the endless quest to lighten planes and consume less fuel, even seals are getting the low-weight treatment. Simrit, the aerospace division of Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies, announced the creation of a low-density silicone that was recently used successfully by a nacelle system’s supplier.

Simrit didn't say who the nacelle system supplier was, but the silicone itself is interesting enough to attract its own bit of attention. The material has the same physical properties of traditional silicones; but, with a lower density, it weighs less. That translates into weight savings of 15-20% over other materials, the company says.

“In the ever competitive commercial aerospace market, airlines are being required to do more for less,” said Vinay Nilkanth, Simrit’s vice president of global aerospace sales. “Our low-density silicone material provides the critical weight saving benefits customers seek, without compromising other physical properties.”

By maintaining those physical properties, the material remains flexible through temperatures ranging from -85F to +401F and resists deterioration caused by weathering and petroleum-based lubricating oils. The silicone meets AMS 3302 and AMS 3303 specifications and can be used in airframe and interior sealing in addition to nacelle systems and non-aerospace applications, the company says. Sounds promising.

With aircraft like Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner turning increasingly to lighter-weight composites and seal manufacturers exploring materials, alternative technologies are keeping airplanes up by keeping weight down. What part, then, comes next?

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