In recent years, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has grown tremendously not only for military applications such as surveillance and reconnaissance but also for recreational and commercial use. For these aircraft to reach desired heights and distances with minimal engine power, they must be lightweight – and that is a requirement that advanced composites can meet better than any other material. On average, UAVs comprise up to 50% carbon fiber, and Hexcel’s HexTow® carbon fibers provide the required stiffness-to-weight ratio needed for UAVs.
In addition, Hexcel’s advanced materials can contribute to the electromagnetic properties of UAV systems. Since these systems are unmanned, they require efficient and reliable communication with ground stations or other UAVs through wireless or satellite communications. Hexcel materials can be tuned to absorb certain electromagnetic frequencies and pass other frequencies. They are used for the vehicle’s structure and the radomes, which protect the antennas. The radome materials and structure can be engineered to allow for efficient communication while blocking out signals that are coming from other sources.
Hexcel’s lightweight, reliable, and affordable materials will help to enable this industry to move forward. Carbon fiber composite materials, honeycomb core structures, additive manufacturing, and dielectric tuned materials are key parts of this industry today. They will continue to enhance the functionality and efficiency of these vehicles in the future.
Our unrivaled range of products for UAV applications include: