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Making Airplane Parts Without the Massive Infrastructure

A modern airplane’s fuselage is made from multiple sheets of different composite materials that must be wheeled into warehouse-sized ovens where the layers fuse together to form a resilient, aerodynamic shell. Engineers have developed a method to produce aerospace-grade composites without enormous ovens and pressure vessels. Instead of placing layers of material inside an oven to cure, the material is wrapped in an ultrathin film of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). When an electric current is applied to the film, the CNTs generated heat, causing the materials within to cure and fuse together.

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