A composite material is a material that gets the best of two or more sub-materials to form a more useful substance. Over history, composite materials served humanity for various purposes. For example, the Mesopotamians used glue and wooden strips to create plywood, while the Ancient Egyptians used straw and mud bricks to develop composite bricks.
The 1900s to Now
In the early 1900s, plastics and polyesters were created thanks to innovations in the synthetic polymer industry. Soon, profound advancements came in modern composite materials that used fine glass fibre filaments for insulation. A few decades later, composite materials were refined to be lighter, more durable, and more resistant. Here, naval vessels used glass fibre reinforced plastics.
The innovations made in compositive materials during the war went on to help various industries. And in the late 1900s, composite materials became more robust and even more durable with the birth of carbon and aramid materials favoured by the sporting goods, aerospace, and automotive industry.
Modern composites are found everywhere, from consumer products and building materials to aerospace and automobile manufacturing. In typical industrial applications today, a composite material comprises a reinforced material held in a plastic matrix. The plastic matrix serves as a binder that holds the fibres and transfers the loads between them.
Modern Industry Leaders
The best composite manufacturing companies today specialize in the design and manufacturing of advanced composite and metallic components for various industries, including the following:
- Defence: The defence industry loves to develop powerful yet mobile technology. Composite materials fit the bill because they’re high-strength, lightweight, versatile, and configurable. Composites are uses to make drones, armoured vehicles, and fighter planes.
- Automotive: Composites help the transportation industry innovative with newer vehicles that are lighter, faster, and more fuel-efficient.
- Marine: As noted before, key innovations in the composite industry have helped naval manufacturing since the 1930s with the birth of glass fibre reinforced plastics. With modern composites, the marine industry produces sophisticated curved materials that are lightweight and strong.
- Electrical: The electrical industry uses composites in microwave antennas, pole line hardware, printed wiring boards, standoffs, satellite dishes, and more.
- Household: Composites are used in household appliances such as dishwashers, microwaves, stoves, and the like, to be stronger, lighter, quieter, and more efficient.
- Aerospace: In the modern age, demand for innovation in composites is fueled by the aerospace industry — over half of all aircraft parts are created with composite materials, like fuselage sections, engine components, and wings.
- Prosthetic Implants: Composite materials are a natural fit for prosthetic implants and assistive devices as they’re durable, flexible, and light.
- Clean Energy: Composites are the main components in the turbine rotors and towers used in wind turbines.
Why not Steel?
Industries prefer composite materials over metals because of factors such as stiffness and strength. In addition, composites are lighter than steel and more customizable.
Of course, the corrosion-resistant nature of composites makes them excellent for outdoor applications. And for some industries, the most significant advantage composites have over metals is that they’re excellent insulators while metal conducts electricity.
With so many clear-cut benefits to using composites, industries worldwide turn to reliable, knowledgeable, experienced, and innovative manufacturers that deliver high-quality products on time and on budget.