Composites

It is not only the strength of composites but their lightweight nature that makes them so useful.

What are Composites?

Composites are materials that have been engineered to provide specific properties. Composites consist of two or more distinct constituents that retain some of their identities after the composite has formed.

The individual components are called fibres, fillers, reinforcing agents, and matrixes. Fibres can be made from glass strands (fibreglass)for strength and stability, or they can be natural like kevlar fibre for strength and protection. Fillers are used to increasing the volume of a composite while reinforcing agents provide stiffness and/or toughness. Matrixes (resins) serve as the bonding between all the constituents of a composite.

The materials used in composites are a mix of polymers and fibres. The most common polymer is epoxy resin, which makes up the bulk of the mixture by weight. Fibres account for the rest of the composite mixture and can be made from glass, carbon or aramid material.

Fibre-reinforced composites are lighter than steel and have much higher strength to weight ratios than other engineering materials like aluminium or metals. Composites have also been shown to withstand high temperatures better than metals as well as being corrosion resistant against saltwater environments found on boats and ships.

The idea behind these materials is that they combine many benefits into one product: lightweight, strong, durable, inexpensive to produce – this means that composites are the perfect material for many applications.

There is a wide range of composite materials and each one has its own unique properties, so it’s important to find out what type you need before starting your project!

How are composites made?

The complex process begins by mixing together resins, solvents, fibres (such as glass or carbon), plasticizers, pigments, and additives such as flame retardants.

The mixture is then formed into a mould and heated. This can be done in several ways, including autoclave curing (where the part is cooked inside an oven) or simply by leaving it to sit while exposed to high temperatures.

When this process has been completed, the composite is left to cool and then removed from its mould. This can be done in several ways; either by cutting it out of a block, or machining it down to the correct size if required.

Finally, any additional finishing processes are applied such as painting or plating.

Properties of composites

Depending on the resin that is used, and what kind of fibres are mixed in.

The fibreglass composite can be used to make things that have the following attributes:

  • Resistance to chemicals
  • Mechanical (strength)
  • Insulating properties (electrical and heat)
  • Fire retardant
  • Resistance to extreme temperatures
  • Resistance to corrosion
  • Its non-conductivity
  • Lightweight compared to steel.
  • Flexible
  • Weather-resistant

Why use composites?

It is no secret that composites are a great option for many applications. They are durable, lightweight, and easy to work with.

Composites are a great material to use in the manufacturing industry because they have many benefits. One of these is that composites can be used for both functional and decorative purposes. This means that you can use them in any area of your product where you want it to look good as well as perform its function.

Another benefit is that composites are cost-effective, which makes them a popular choice with most manufacturers.

If you’re looking for a material with all these features, then composites may just be right for your manufacturing needs!

 

Composites are used in the following industries:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Defence / Military
  • Renewable energy
  • Marine
  • Construction (buildings, bridges, structures and more)
  • Roofing
  • Medical
  • Health care and leisure (fitness)
  • Trucks, Buses, Trains and Trams
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Vehicle conversions
  • Art and sculptures
  • Prototype development
  • And many more uses.

Composites can be used to create a variety of items. The article above provides additional information on the different types of composites and their uses in various applications.

 

To learn about reasons to use composites, check out Why use composites page or about moulds, patterns and moulds.

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