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The aerospace and defence industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the pressing need for modernisation and the growing importance of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 174,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defence industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Advanced Materials in Aerospace, Defence & Security: Silicone based aircraft components. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 262,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the aerospace and defence industry, there are 180+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Silicone-based aircraft components is a key innovation area in soldier modernisation

Silicone can be used in a range of products, including aircraft components and spacecraft components. Silicone-based parts can be used in thermal management and shock absorption, amongst other roles.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defence companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of silicone-based aircraft components.

Key players in silicone-based aircraft components – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defence industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to silicone-based aircraft components

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Boeing 99 Unlock Company Profile
Hexcel 32 Unlock Company Profile
W. L. Gore & Associates 28 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 24 Unlock Company Profile
3M 23 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus 23 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor 21 Unlock Company Profile
Spirax-Sarco Engineering 16 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie Generale des Etablissements Michelin 15 Unlock Company Profile
Hutchinson 14 Unlock Company Profile
COSCO Shipping Holdings 12 Unlock Company Profile
Nitto Denko 11 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 11 Unlock Company Profile
Daikin Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
Lockheed Martin 9 Unlock Company Profile
Goodyear 9 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 9 Unlock Company Profile
Toyobo 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
General Motors 8 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp 7 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 7 Unlock Company Profile
Covestro 7 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 7 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm Holdings 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toyota Motor 6 Unlock Company Profile
Northrop Grumman 6 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries 5 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 5 Unlock Company Profile
Daicel 5 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Amongst aerospace and defence companies, Boeing is the leading patent filer in silicone-based aircraft components. Boeing is heavily involved in the production of aircraft, from military platforms such as the F-15 EX and CH-47 to commercial aircraft such as the 737MAX and 777X Dreamliner. Many of these aircraft incorporate components made from silicone, including O-rings and gaskets. Additionally, some spacecraft incorporate high temperature, radiation hardened silicon carbide electronics. Other key patent filers amongst aerospace and defence companies include Airbus, Hutchinson, and Lockheed Martin.

In terms of application diversity, Lockheed Martin holds the most widely applicable patents in silicone-based aircraft components. Northrop Grumman and Airbus hold the second and third places, respectively. Regarding geographic reach, Israel Aerospace Industries has registered patents in the most countries, followed by Hutchinson and Safran.

Silicone-based aircraft parts provide aircraft manufacturers with cheap durable parts, whilst compounds of silicone bring useful characteristics for use in extreme environments.

To further understand how soldier modernisation is disrupting the aerospace and defence industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Soldier Modernization.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.