Why Use Composites?

Composites, especially Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composites, offer many advantages compared to traditional materials:

  • High strength: FRP composites are very effective in providing high strength components. They can be designed to provide a specific range of mechanical properties, including tensile, flexural, impact and compressive strengths.  Composite parts designed with oriented reinforcement can provide additional strength, directional strength, or flexural properties at desired locations within a single part.
  • Lightweight: FRP composites have a higher specific strength than most materials used in similar applications.  They can deliver more strength per weight than most metal alloys.
  • Corrosion Resistance: FRP composites do not rust or corrode.  There are various resin binder systems available which provide long-term resistance to most chemical and temperature environments.  Properly designed FRP composites parts have long service life and minimum maintenance compared to traditional building materials.
  • Durability: How long do composites last? Often, over fifty years and still counting.  FRP composite technology is “new” compared to the materials that it often replaces, such as concrete, steel and wood, so the full life span for many composite components is still being developed.  However, there are many cases of FRP composite boats, tanks and other products that are in use after more than 50 years of service life!  (Composite Durability overview)
  • Design Flexibility: FRP composites can be fabricated into virtually any shape.  An application can be complex in configuration, large or small, structural, decorative, or a combination of these.  Composites free designers to try new concepts, from prototype to production.
  • Parts Consolidation: Because of the design and fabrication flexibility of composites, single composite parts can replace complex assemblies units of multiple fasteners/parts that are produced with traditional materials such as wood, steel and aluminum.
  • Dimensional Stability: FRP composites maintain their shape and functionality even under severe mechanical and environmental stresses.  FRP composites typically do not exhibit the “cold-creep” characteristics of thermoplastics.
  • High Dielectric Strength: FRP composites have excellent electrical insulating properties, making them an obvious choice for components in current carrying applications.
  • Low Thermal Conductivity:  FRP composites are naturally poor conductors, which makes them great for applications such as window lineals, door skins, exterior cladding and other products where insulation is important.  However, thermally conductive or electrically conductive materials can be incorporated into the composite part if high thermal or electrical conductivity is required.
  • Elevated Temperature Service: Composite parts fabricated utilizing appropriate polymer binder and filler technology perform very well in high temperature applications.