Aerospace and infrastructure - supporting tech-driven growth

The aerospace industry needs a thriving infrastructure sector if it is to meet the challenges of technology driven change, says Christopher Dean.

Infrastructure is a vital part of society and engineering. Without it, the world would be a very different place. There would be no roads, no networks, no transportation systems and, of course, no aerospace industry to speak of.

Developments in aerospace engineering imply a need for supporting infrastructure. After all, how else can we create increasingly advanced aircrafts, satellites and rockets, as well as innovative technologies? As the aerospace industry develops and continues to contribute billions to the economy, so should its surrounding infrastructure, in order to be able to fully support and help the continuous growth of the sector.

Aerospace engineering needs infrastructure

To create and develop cutting-edge technology, you need to have the necessary infrastructure. It is fair to say, then, that as the industry progresses, the surrounding infrastructure must accompany it. For example, because astronauts are living and working in the ISS for extended periods of time, efficient technologies that provide life support in such a harsh environment were developed.

The aerospace industry requires special considerations when using parts and components, mainly when it comes to weight, strength and soundness. These characteristics are of the utmost importance to the sector, as they allow for the manufacture of highly efficient products which need to be created through equally efficient processes.

How aerospace engineering impacts infrastructure

Aluminium has long been the material of choice for aircraft components, so the increasing need to manufacture improved parts has led to the development of methods like the ELITE process. The ELITE process guarantees the highest mechanical properties in aluminium castings, with a non-porous microstructure and a large selection of size and weight capabilities. The process is similar to the SOPHIA® casting process and provides many advantages to the aerospace industry, including high-integrity aluminium castings.

Another example is 3D technology, which provides many advantages to large-scale engineering. Engineers can, in essence, eliminate complex supply chains, as well as the need to transport bulky and heavy products from one place to another over large distances. Nanotechnology is important to the sector as well, as it allows for the creation of more durable materials and for the exploration of the possibility of self-repairing materials.

Aerospace engineering impacts these and more technologies and evokes a need for their emergence. All of the above technologies will, in turn, contribute to industry advancements and should be continuously developed as well. This is so that they can provide the best possible support to aerospace. 

Infrastructure challenges

As aerospace engineering develops, its surrounding infrastructure faces many obstacles that can hinder or delay its progress. Some of these include a reduced budget, lack of skilled personnel and even a shrinking market. Others include challenges pertaining to the innovative nature of aerospace engineering.

The aerospace sector has always been known for its innovation, as it has continuously tried to redefine and surpass itself, whether in regard to business models or to the products it manufactures and the services it provides. However, without the adequate means to create new technologies or develop existing ones, the aerospace industry cannot advance.

In the future, the development of increasingly complex infrastructures is needed. This will enable engineers to progress the industry without finding themselves unable to implement new concepts because infrastructure is too limited.

The rapid pace of technological change means that the future is now. It also means that infrastructure such as nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, and cybersecurity, must respond to these advances in order to remain successful. No matter what the challenges aerospace engineering faces, growing together is, therefore, the answer.

Christopher Dean is the owner and managing director of Dean Group, which has more than 40 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, specialising in high-quality, high-integrity casting processes.