Boeing’s carbon fiber scraps end up in football pads

The Boeing Co. is working with Russell Brands to use excess carbon fiber from 787 Dreamliner production in Russell Athletic protective gear, starting with CarbonTek shoulder pads for football.

The advanced composite material is being used for the same reason the aerospace industry uses it: It is lightweight, strong and durable.

The pads will be “thinner, stronger and approximately 10 percent lighter compared to competitors,” according to a news release from Russell Brands and Boeing.

Three pro players and several NCAA Division I players will wear the new pads during the upcoming season, according to the release.

“Our collaboration with Russell Athletic is a fabulous opportunity to utilize the strength and lightweight characteristics of 787 carbon fiber to support elite athletes on the field,” said Julie Felgar, managing director of Boeing Commercial Airplanes environmental strategy.

Boeing offers surplus factory materials to meet the company’s environmental and business goals.

As the airplane maker’s use of composites materials grows, it sees more secondary opportunities for what would otherwise be scraps. The increase is being driven by rising production of the 787 and starting up production of the 777X, which has massive wings made from carbon fiber composite material.

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