Composites are lightweight
Composites have recently gained much attention due to their weight-adjusted (or specific) stiffness and strength, which allow for lightweighting in fly- or drive-away applications. Thus, aerospace, and now, automotive companies are increasing the composite content in their products. Demand is increasing in other industries based on additional material properties available in composites.
But the benefits of lightweight materials is not limited to the transportation sector.
In the infrastructure sector, lightweight composite materials have a myriad of benefits. From simplified foundation requirements, to lower installation costs, to architectural design flexibility, composites are increasingly an option for designers.
Why are composites lightweight?
Composite materials are made up of two or more different materials, referred to as the matrix and the reinforcement. Each combination is chosen for its ability to deliver predictable and repeatable performance to match the application’s requirements.
The matrix functions to bind the reinforcement together and protect it.
The reinforcement, sometimes referred to as the substrate, is considered the primary contributor to the strength and stiffness of the composite. Potential reinforcements that can be effectively utilized are nearly infinite. Common reinforcement materials include glass, aramids, nylon and carbon fiber. Other materials such as virgin PTFE or rubber can be incorporated into the composite to achieve specific design objectives.
Composites are lightweight because their individual components have low density and superior strength and stiffness.