Universal Asset Management has completely recycled carbon fiber from commercial aircraft, the company says.

UAM presented a 3D-printed engine stand manufactured from carbon fiber reinforced polymer from commercial aircraft at the three-day MRO Americas conference in Orlando this April. The resulting second-generation carbon fiber material is usable as a raw resource, the company says. It could be a feasible supply for advanced additive manufacturing supply chains, as well as used in automotive and other manufacturing industries that require cost-competitive carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber is typically arduous to recycle, Universal says, but efforts over the past 15 years have yielded a viable solution that contributes to the circular economy.

“It is with vigor that UAM undertook the challenge,” the company said in a statement. “Now, its success opens the door to possibilities even beyond aviation, paving the way to total aircraft recyclability. UAM’s proprietary engineering in the use of CFRP from retired aircraft is a harbinger of future products under development by UAM’s innovation technology team. CFRP use is on the rise, as today’s modern aircraft are now made of approximately 50 percent composite material, compared to aircraft from the 1970s, which were manufactured with less than 1 percent of carbon-based materials.”

The design team at UAM is led by Keri Wright, chief executive officer.

“As the world’s first, this achievement extends beyond aviation,” says Wright. “UAM is the only company to harvest CFRP from end-of-life aircraft to be reintroduced to manufacturing. We are an innovative technology company that is honored to be recognized as a leader in recycling and sustainability. This unique and proprietary process is an industry first in the total recyclability of aircraft. The possibilities of our applications are only limited by one’s own imagination.”