TABLE 2.4 Materials Needs of the Eight Industries

Desired Characteristic










Light/ strong


High temperature resistance




Corrosion resistance



Rapid switching



Efficient processing

Near-net-shape forming

Material recycling





Prediction of service life

Prediction of physical properties

Materials data bases

These findings are consistent with the results of an international survey, discussed in Chapter 7, that clearly shows that many of the major trading partners of the United States have targeted research in materials science and engineering, along with biotechnology and computer and information technology, as one of three principal areas for special growth. They have also targeted specific areas within materials science and engineering for development in their nations.

Aerospace Industry

Scope of the Industry

The aerospace industry is large and dynamic. In 1987, it employed 835,000 workers (a figure that doubles when supplier companies are included) and had sales of $105.6 billion (see Table 2.2). The industry has had a consistently positive balance in international trade, including $15.1 billion in 1987 (see Table 2.3). Despite the traditional technological leadership of the U.S. aerospace industry, however, extremely stiff foreign competition has developed. Beyond its role in the civilian economy, the industry is critical to the national defense.

The survey of the aerospace industry covered both military and civilian airframe and engine production as well as materials needs for spacecraft. Electronic materials for aircraft applications were excluded from this survey, because they were included in the electronics industry survey.

Role of Materials in the Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry is both a user and a developer of high-performance materials. Aerospace systems push structural materials capabilities to their limits.

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