Seeking details of ‘high tech plastic’

Please don’t start referring to the 777X wing as “plastic,” as in the AP/Herald staff story, “Boeing books Cathay Pacific order for 21 777Xs.” While engineers may use that term to describe properties of the composite material, the layman understanding of the word conjures images of gallon milk jugs. I’m no engineer, but a bit of free time on the couch with a Google-capable device informed me that the wing will be made of CFRP or carbon fiber reinforced polymer (or plastic). The material and process is more akin to building fiberglass boats or putting mayo on both pieces of the bread so the ham doesn’t fall out of my sandwich than it is to the stuff that makes a Happy Meal toy. The materials and processes necessary to build the 777X wing are technological marvels. Help me understand the realities of what it takes to be on the cutting edge and not dull it with fuzzy language.

Jim Hills


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