Why use composites?
Composites are lightweight and strong, making them perfect for a variety of needs.
Reasons to use composites?
Composites can be used to manufacture parts that are lighter and stronger than those made from standard materials such as steel. Composites offer manufacturers several advantages:
- Composites can result in products of unlimited design aesthetics, unlike the more limited range of colours and surface finishes offered by metals.
- Composites can provide greater strength with less weight compared to metals, allowing for the development of new products which replace existing metal components.
- Composites can reduce production costs. For example, carbon fibre parts can provide increased component stiffness with less material than steel or aluminium, resulting in significant weight savings and potential cost savings. Composites are ideal for spare parts as they offer increased performance without any loss of serviceability compared to standard metal components. They allow manufacturers to bring an enhanced spare part solution directly from prototyping through to series production without imposing costly design changes.
- Composites can result in lighter and stronger components which enable manufacturers to add intelligence such as sensors and wiring into components that were previously inaccessible due to limited space available.
Composites provide increased design freedom due to their high-performance properties, which can result in innovative product designs (e.g., flexible composites). Composites are recyclable and offer decreased environmental impact compared to metal equivalents (i.e., there is no need for secondary metal treatment processes such as hot deformation, melting or annealing after recycling).
Composites enable manufacturers to create new business opportunities with third parties who specialise in parts made from composites, including those that deliver significant weight savings within certain vehicle classes (e.g., boat builders wanting light high-impact-resistant hulls).
Composites enable manufacturers to introduce novel products and solutions which deliver significant improvements in performance, capability and value. Composites offer weight savings in parts where this is desirable but they can also be used in certain applications where their stiffness or heat resistance properties are needed without the need for heavy metal components that would otherwise be required with metals alone.
The use of Composites enables manufacturers to create new business opportunities with specialist knowledge and expertise using these advanced materials. For example, Composite manufacturers may be able to provide light high-impact resistant hulls for boats. Composites enable parts previously considered impossible or impractical to manufacture from a metal part due to space restrictions or where particular physical properties are required (e.g., heat resistant components).
Composites enable the introduction of more intelligent parts with sensors and wiring embedded within them, which can result in power savings due to reduced wiring weights. Composites are recyclable, but the recycling process is not as straightforward as that for metals, so careful consideration should be given to their selection if recyclability is an important factor.
Composites have been widely used on cars since the 1980s but recent developments have led to increased uptake by car manufacturers across all vehicle classes for both new models and aftermarket replacement parts. Composites have been used in Formula One since the 1980s. Composites enable greater design freedom and different solutions compared to traditional materials such as steel or aluminium allowing manufacturers to meet customer demands for new and lighter weight products.
Composites often allow greater design flexibility by introducing features within the part itself rather than using external fixings (e.g., rivets). In certain applications, Composites offer greater strength at lower weights compared with metals alone therefore, they can be beneficial for reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles where overall vehicle weight is an essential factor. Composites are not suitable for all types of cars or parts. Careful consideration must be given to the application before Composites are used as they have different characteristics compared with metals.