EYE on MARKET vol.8

Manufacturing for Flight

-Quicker, Faster, and Stronger

Manufacturing for Flight

Productivity with a Focus on Promptness

Changes in the markets around the world due to COVID-19 have also had a significant influence on the aircraft industry. Up to FY2019, demand from the aircraft industry was expected to increase by 4 to 5% annually. This was based mainly on increase in demand for short-distance transfer by LCC (Low Cost Carrier) , which meant delivery of more than 40,000 aircraft over the 20 years following FY2019. This expectation was bolstered by the fact that the world’s major manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing had already received 7 to 10 years’ worth of orders.In addition, China has also given significant support for the development of domestic aircraft.

Although the pace of development and problems requiring adjustments may influence the type and number of aircraft delivered to airlines, demand,especially demand driven by expansion of the middle class in China and other Asian countries, will not change. Based on these facts, we predict that the required number of aircraft for domestic short and mid-distance transportation will not drop significantly.

In fact, according to the 20-year forecast issued by Boeing each year, demand is predicted to be 43,000, slightly below the 44,000 forecast issued before COVID-19.However, no significant decrease is expected in the number of narrow-body aircraft. On the other hand, the recovery of numbers of aircraft passengers will take until 2024, meaning that demand may easily change in the short term.
Aircraft are such large, highly complex machines that even major aircraft manufacturers cannot handle every aspect of production at one plant.Instead, production requires myriad subcontractors to produce and supply parts. As aircraft become more complex, more time is required for production because of the need to maintain quality and safety. To decrease production time, larger-scale and quicker component production is necessary. When the market recovers from COVID-19, it is essential to recover as rapidly as possible, which will require improved productivity.

As a machining tool manufacturer,Mitsubishi Materials is required to make proposals that allow manufacturers to achieve rapid production by using high-performance products based on accumulated technology.

Productivity with a Focus on Promptness
[Fig.1 Market Growth Forecast until FY2019]
[Fig. 2 A Sample of Air Passenger Transport Recovery Forecast (Source: Market Forecast regarding Commercial Aircraft 2020-2039
Issued by the Japan Aircraft Development Corporation)]

Tools Manufactured to Achieve Speed

To increase productivity and speed, it is essential to either increase processing speed or to machine parts quickly using larger cutting tools. Either way however presents unique challenges because of the advanced technology required for tools and the special materials used in aircraft manufacturing.
Mitsubishi Materials continues to work on these issues by applying accumulated material and moulding technologies.
The wide variety of high performance cutting tools shown below, makes it possible for customers to achieve rapid,high volume processing.

Tools Manufactured to Achieve Speed

Flying Faster

Another way for aircraft manufacturers to increase productivity is to have several manufacturing plants.Manufacturers have been quickly expanding global productivity by opening plants not only in China and Singapore, but also in Southeast Asian countries while manufacturers from the United States have also been opening plants in Mexico.
This is a trend that has already spread across the whole aerospace industry.

Mitsubishi Materials has for a long time had operational, technical and manufacturing bases in Europe, the United States and many other countries.This has allowed better connections with domestic facilities and made it possible to respond rapidly to individual customers in different areas. Due to current market conditions, aircraft manufacturers have started changing or consolidating manufacturing sites. However, even if aircraft manufacturers change prioritized areas, Mitsubishi Materials is able to respond promptly to conditions by utilizing its global network.

MESSAGE For the Future of Aircraft

MESSAGE For the Future of Aircraft

Aiming to provide outstanding solutions to customers in the aircraft industry, Mitsubishi Materials organized its own Aerospace Department four years ago. Since its establishment, the department has been providing technical support to improve productivity and reduce processing costs in customers’ manufacturing lines whilst making proposals for a wide variety of tooling.

Through approaches to highly-difficult issues unique to aircraft parts, including heat-resistant superalloys, CFRP and other composite material machining, a structure has been established to provide solutions that meet customer needs.

A lot of aircraft components are manufactured from difficult-to-cut materials. Mitsubishi Materials has a long history of developing tools capable of machining these materials and has introduced a wide variety of tools to the market over the years.

Advancements in materials used for aircraft parts are constantly evolving and the machinability of these newly developed materials tends to become ever more difficult. As a tool manufacturer continuing to develop new products capable of processing these materials is essential. The past four years has seen the introduction of many new products to the market, and there will be a continued commitment to improving these products as well as adding even more high-quality products to the range to meet demand.
The global manufacturing industry has been affected by COVID-19 and the aerospace industry has been one of the hardest hit. According to the industry forecast, although it may take time for recovery, the industry is expected to grow as before once COVID-19 is brought under control. After this, aircraft will be flying people and cargo around the globe once again and the technology accumulated through aircraft parts processing will be essential. The aerospace industry will continue to be a focused market as Mitsubishi Materials continues partnering with the aerospace industry and contributing to its growth.

Yohichi Akashi
General Manager, Aerospace Dept.
Metalworking Solutions Company
Mitsubishi Materials Corporation