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Composites 101: Why glass reinforced composites are better than wood, metal or plastic
Posted on August 6, 2014
The numerous features of composite materials have led to the widespread adoption and use through many different industries. It is because of these unique features of composites that people benefit. Below are some of the most important features of composites, and the benefits they provide
Composites are incredibly lightweight, especially in comparison to materials like concrete, metal, and wood. Often a composite structure will weigh 1/4 that of a steel structure with the same strength. That means, a car made from composites can weigh 1/4 that of a car made from steel. This equates to serious fuel savings.
Composite materials are extremely strong, especially per unit of weight. An example of this are the high tenacity structural fibers used in composites such as aramid and S-Glass, which are widely used in body armor. Due to high strength composites, soldiers are well protected from blast and ballistic threats.
Corrosion and Chemical Resistance
Composites are highly resistant to chemicals and will never rust or corrode. This is why the marine industry was one of the first to adopt the use of composites. Boats made withfiberglass can stay in the highly corrosive salt water without rusting.
Fiber reinforced composites have excellent elastic properties. When one bends metal, it will yield or dent. However, when composites are bent, they want to naturally snap back into place. This feature is ideal for springs, and is why composites are used in car leaf springs and in the limbs of archery bows.
Certain composites, such as composite made with fiberglass, are non-conductive. This is important because often a structure is needed that is strong, yet will not conduct electricity. An example of this are ladders. Aluminum ladders can be an electrocution hazard, while ladders made with fiberglass are not a risk if the ladder was to cross a power line.