Material Sources

Aircaft parts, materials and hardware

Aircraft materials are raw materials such as wood, steel, aluminum or composite materials. Some other materials commonly used on aerospace vehicles include magnesium and magnesium alloys as well as titanium and its alloys.

Aluminum is heralded in aviation materials for many reasons. Primarily aluminum is lightweight, weighing about .1 pound per cubic inch compared to .28 pounds in iron. Aluminum in its pure state is not very strong with a tensile strength of about 13,000 psi. Aluminum can be treated to increase its strength to that greater than structural steel. By alloying aluminum with small amounts of other metals, aluminum can achieve tensile strengths on the order of near 100,000 psi. Another property of aluminum is its ease to forming and fabrication of parts.

Aluminum Designation:

1xxx- 99.00 percent and greater (pure aluminum)

Aluminum Alloy Designation (major alloy elements)


3xxx- Manganese

4xxx- Silicon

5xxx- Magnesium

6xxx- Magnesium & Silicon

7xxx- Zinc

8xxx- Other element

9xxx- Unused series

Temper Desgination: A letter and number system designates the type of tempering and degree. The letter identifies the basic tempering and the number designator gives more specifics as to the tempering to achieve the degree of hardness of the material.

A typical designation would be 2024-T6. This is what the designation tells us; we have 2000 series aluminum with copper as the leading element in the alloy. The last two digits identify the alloy or purity. The T6 designation tells us the material is solution heat treated and artifically aged.

So handlers of the material can identify one type of aluminum from another, as they all look relatively the same, stock aluminum is identified with markings running along the grain approximately 6 inches apart. Extruded material is marked some where between 3 and 5 feet apart along the length.

Magnesium, wood, and titanium have some very specific demands for identification, forming and working and I ask you to refer to AC 43.13-1 for any information on these materials.

We all know steel. Steel is designated by a classification system of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Steel Classification:

1xxx- Carbon

2xxx- Nickel

3xxx- Nickel-Chromium

4xxx- Molybdenum

5xxx- Chromium

6xxx- Chromium-Vanadium

7xxx- Tungsten

9xxx- Silicon-Magnesium

Composite materials are identified by the type of fibers and the weave used during manufacture of the cloth. Common composite materials include fiberglass, Kevlar(TM), carbon fiber or graphite and ceramic. All these materials demonstrate different properties and have different strengths and weights not only in material type but also in the weave and thickness of the material.

The cloth is readily shaped into even compound curves and retained to the shape of a mold by use of a resin that when hardened forms a solid component.

Aircraft common hardware is designated by MS/AN which is a standard that provides specific requirements as to the tolerance and standards to which the hardware is to be produced. Letter graded hardware is NOT aircraft quality hardware and is not recommended for use in aircraft. Although use of an automotive or alternative engine may use and require the use of letter graded hardware- just don't use it in the airframe or aircraft components unless the kit manufacturer specifies this grade of hardware to be used.

Aircraft component parts are designated by whatever designation system the manufacturer or retailer utilizes, even if there is a MS or AN standard for the part. It is simply a part number to identify the part and where it is to be employed.

NOTE: Many parts offered for homebuilders of experimental aircraft are not FAA approved parts. Gyroplanepassion does not provide, design, manufacture or retail any parts used in aviation. If you have questions about any part or materials contact the retailer or manufacturer.

There are many retailers of bulk aircraft materials. Some carry a greater variety of hardware than others do and there is normally one very close to you. The closer you can find a good retailer with quality material at a good price the more you will save on shipping charges. Check them out.

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