Manufacturing Process and Applications of Composite Materials
Composite materials have various manufacturing purposes and processes involved to create them. Many articles out there and documentation can provide information on what a composite actually is, but when it comes to how they’re made, and what they are used for, you get varying information and it’s rather bleak. We’re here to try and solve that a little bit.
The Manufacturing Process Varies Depending on the Material and Application
Usually, there are two primary ways to explain the types of composites when they’re manufactured. This is usually laminates, which are when fibers or layers are usually bound together with things such as “epoxies” in order to achieve their process (certain sheets of fiberglass, plastic, and other types of composite materials) explains Spartec Canada.
The second form of composite manufacturing is by compositing the material into layers, similar to that of how a keyboard has numerous overlaying films. Each film adds another layer onto the material (like motherboards and circuit boards for instance), which will be pressed together and bonded like they are in order to create the final product. Other common forms of this have been surf boards, car parts, baseball bats, and more. And while fiberglass is the predominant composite material that is normally manufactured, it’s not the only one.
Some Applications of Composite Materials
When it comes to composite materials being applied, it is often because the finished product needs to be durable, physically strong (not just durable), lightweight, and still just as solid as if a hard metal was used. For example, everything from airplanes, car parts, some space craft, and more are used. These are also good examples of products that are applied with composite materials because they don’t have any thermal conductivity.
What this means is that they aren’t susceptible to heat and cold. There are even applications of materials such as fiberglass which are fire retardant (fireman’s helmets, soldiers helmets, fireman’s protective clothing and gear often contain high amounts of composite materials for this). Depending on what the needs of strength, the ability to withstand temperatures, and flexibility, are some of the things that affect what polymer fibers are attached or fused with the composite. These fibers are then mixed in with the resin along with the original material being composited and result in the end product.
There are many reasons why a product such as fiberglass would be added. When it comes to the production process, the overall time it takes to make is a lot less than say that of steel (and with a few less dangers too), plain carbon materials, etc. At the same time it is a lot cheaper and can be made very easily without depleting many of our planet’s natural elements. If you think about all the sand in the world that can make glass for fiberglass as an example, you’ll easily see that the time and money and resources are reduced drastically as compared to mining carbon, manufacturing it, melting it, and more, but the final product can offer the exact same (or very close to) strength that is needed, and is lighter. This is not to say that it is 100% as sturdy, but in many cases, it has many benefits that metals and other non-composite materials don’t have.