Fibre reinforced composites – light, strong, rigid
The properties of the fibre and matrix material can be combined in fibre reinforced composites to produce a product that is superior in many respects to the pure materials involved. They are light and robust, exhibit an enhanced resistance to cracking and, despite a considerably lower weight, have comparable or higher rigidity and /or strength. In the case of brittle matrices such as ceramics or carbon, embedding of fibres achieves a certain level of plasticity and, consequently, resistance to galling, a characteristic that is frequently essential. The technology itself can be traced back to observations made in the 1920’s where it was noted that fibres exhibit considerably greater strength in the direction of the actual fibres than the same material in another form. The rule here is the thinner the fibre, the stronger the composite material.
The spectrum of fibre reinforced composites used in industry ranges from clothing, furniture and household appliances to boat construction and aerospace engineering and includes multi-storey buildings and bridges. They are used wherever individual materials cannot meet specification requirements, where a combination of positive characteristics and low weight is needed and under very demanding application conditions. Specific modification of properties enables development engineers to produce perfect tailored materials for sophisticated applications.