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Pratt & Whitney Opens Lightweight Materials Center

July 19, 2021
A new research and manufacturing operation in California will develop ceramic matrix composites for aerospace engine components.

Jet-engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney opened a new engineering, development, and low-rate production center for ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) for aerospace applications, in Carlsbad, California. CMCs are lightweight materials gaining prominence in aerospace engine design, due to their durability and comparative lightness.

The 60,000-sq.ft operation will have a staff of 60 engineers, technicians, and managers, and Pratt & Whitney indicated that hiring is ongoing there.

CMCs are formed by fixing silicon-carbide (SiC) ceramic fibers in a SiC matrix, and then coated with proprietary ceramic material. Pratt & Whitney noted CMC materials can be used to manufacture engine parts that are one-third the weight of metallic parts, and that the temperature capability of CMC parts is several hundred degrees higher than advanced superalloy parts. These material advantages are used to improve jet engine’s fuel efficiency, according to P&W.

Frank Preli, vice president of Propulsion & Materials Technology at Pratt & Whitney noted: “Some of our best and brightest minds are innovating within this facility and they will ensure that we continue to operate on the cutting edge of aviation technology for decades to come.”

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