A World Full of Composites
One might be surprised to find out that composites have become a part of our everyday lives. So what are composites? Composites are formed when two or more materials with different physical and chemical properties are combined to produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components.
Composite material is widely used because it is light weight, high strength, durable, corrosion resistant, nonconductive, low maintenance and allows for design flexibility. In today's market, structures made of composite have a longer life and a higher strength to weight ratio than those made of traditional material. This versatile material is used in such a variety of applications that the overall composite market has to been divided into the following major segments.
- Aerospace - The aerospace market is one of the largest and most important of the composites industry. Commercial, military and space craft all make substantial use of composite material both inside and out. Some applications of composite on aircrafts include propellers, primary wing and fuselage structures, floor boards and flight control surfaces.
- Automotive - Composites are being used to make lighter, safer and more fuel efficient vehicles. Composite material can withstand very intense heat and speed and will not rust or corrode like steel or aluminum. The use of composites in vehicles has given the automobile designers free rein, as these materials can be easily molded into any shape or size.
- Construction/Infrastructure - Composites are used in various architecture and infrastructure applications. Some of these applications include the repair and replacement of roads, bridges and pilings. Homes and offices also use composite material. Bathroom fixtures, swimming pools and wall panels are just a few of the items around your home that may be made of composite.
- Defense - The military has long used composites in many applications. Some of these applications include fighter jets, helicopters and watercraft. The strength and durability of composite material is perfect for the demanding performance of these applications.
- Marine - The marine market is deeply penetrated by the composite industry. Yachts, sailboats and naval ships all use some form of composite material. Composites are very suitable for these applications because they can withstand the harsh marine environment.
- Mass Transit - Trains, buses and subways make extensive use of composites. Many of the air conditioner enclosures, vehicle body panels and interior parts and components found in these modes of transportation are made of composite material. Composites offer overall weight reductions and improved energy effeciency.
- Sports and Recreation - Composites used in sporting goods is almost a given these days. Golf clubs, tennis rackets, hockey sticks, fishing poles, canoes and bicycles all benefit from the light weight and high strength of composites. The use of composite material in recreational activities will continue to increase.
- Energy/Electrical- Composites are being used to make turbine blades, solar panel frames, pole line hardware, substation equipment, utility poles and crossarms. Since composites are nonconductive, this makes them very suitable for electrical products. Composites can also stand up to severe weather and wide changes in temperature making them ideal for the great outdoors.
Composites are all around us. This material builds bridges that won't rust, turns wind into electric power, improves fuel efficiency in cars, trucks and trains, creates recreational options that make our life enjoyable and so much more.
Are there any products you use on a daily basis that are made of composite material? Do you like the way composites are being used in today's market?