Composites have been around for hundreds of years in the form of mud/straw bricks, papier mache, concrete and plywood. But these days, when we mention composites, most people think of fibreglass, kevlar or carbon fibre – all reinforced plastic structures made from fibres encased inside a polymer resin matrix
Plastic resins, such as polyester, vinyl ester or epoxy, are man-made liquids that harden into a rigid material when mixed with their specific catalyst. Unfortunately, by themselves, resins are too brittle to be of much practical value.
However when the resin is reinforced with long thin fibres, such as glass, kevlar or carbon, the combined strength and flexibility is amazingly increased.
This key development has meant that composites have become modern alternatives to traditional wood or metal materials.
The material is so versatile that, with the right combination of resin and fibres, composite products can be moulded into complex shapes to suit thousands of applications … aircraft, boats, automobiles, racing cars, bath tubs, shower enclosures, swimming pools, spa pools, fuel storage tanks, water tanks, roofing, pipes, building structures, cladding, casts, kayaks, surfboards, racing bicycles, motorbikes, playground equipment, casts for broken bones, tool handles, etc.
Some advantages of composites:
- High strength-to-weight ratio
- Light weight
- Fire resistance
- Excellent insulation
- Weather resistance
- Attractive finish with an infinite choice of colour and texture
- Translucent to 85%
- Flexibility of design
With continual advances in composites design, new and unique applications are being found to meet the most demanding specifications of the industrial, military, medical, commercial and consumer world.
Learn more about the magic of composites at Composites Lab website.