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Would you agree that composite designs are more technologically advanced than the old aluminium technology? Return to FAQ

Certainly not. The technology involved in a design has only a little to do with the material used for construction. The choice of materials will be influenced by the airplane's objectives. Both materials have their pros and cons. It is how the design came to life and how the final kit can be assembled by the customer that will tell us which design is technologically advanced.

The main advantage of composite materials is that you can create an infinity of shapes and you can achieve a perfectly smooth finish. This is important if the finished look is one of your main objectives. Also, if you are trying to create a very fast airplane, the smooth finish of composite materials can help.

The inconvenients of composite materials, especially for amateur construction, is that it takes a lot of time and quality work if you want to achieve that perfectly smooth and good looking finish. Also, many people have developed some physical reactions to the chemical products used and to the dust from the sanding work. Finally, it is still unsure how composite materials age and especially how we can inspect for fatigue in amateur built composite aircrafts.

The main inconvenient of aluminium is that you are limited on the shapes you can achieve and it is harder to get a perfectly smooth finish as you could get with composites. However, you can use countersunk rivets to get a smoother finish if speed is one of your main objectives.

The many advantages of aluminium are as follows; First a recent development in computer drawings and tooling allows a process called ?matched hole process'. With this process, highly sophisticated software and equipments are used to create parts that are all "pre-punched, pre-cut and pre-bent". This technology, when used, took most of the "building" out of an aluminium kit plane project. "Assembling" is now the description of the work involved in the new highly technologically advanced aluminium airplane kit projects.

So if you are looking for a kit that is easy to assemble, look at one which uses the "matched hole process". Then, try to find a design that uses this process in as many of their parts as possible.
At Dream Aircraft, we were able to create a kit with every single part "pre-punched, pre-cut and pre-bent; every skin, ribs, stiffeners, spars, bulkheads, everything" You will not have a single hole to measure and drill. This is why even our standard kit is so easy and so quick to assemble, also considering the help of all the 3D colour coded computer drawings and assembly manual.

Another considerable advantage of aluminium is that we know perfectly well what the lifespan of aluminium airplanes can be. Just look at all the Cessna, Piper, Beechcraft and many warbirds still flying as a proof of aluminium longevity. Furthermore, it is very easy to inspect an aluminium structure and to find any fatigue or stress. It will show in the form of cracks that can be easily repaired.

Finally, aluminium is still one of the best material when looking at strength vs weight ratio.

So when you are evaluating the technology involved in a kit, look at the technology for creating and building the components and not only at the materials used.

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