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Composites: Welcome


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

carbon fiber.jpg

Why composites? The outstanding benefits


Composites are composed of fiber reinforcements and a resin matrix that bonds the fibers. They can also include core materials, fillers, additives and surface finishes to provide unique performance attributes (American Composites Manufacturers' Association).

When these elements are combined, the result is an outstandingly strong, light and resilient finished product, even in the harshest of environments. This is why we refer to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Because it's true. 

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft (see picture), for example, has achieved weight savings of approximately 20 per cent by using an airframe that is half composite.

Related article

Even though Boeing's 777 has a composite tail that is 25 per cent larger than the B767's aluminum tail, it actually requires 35 percent fewer "scheduled maintenance labor hours" due to the composites' lower risk of fatigue and corrosion.

Qantas, the Australian airline, claims that its composite 787s will only need a  heavy maintenance "D" Check every 12 years compared with every six years for its older aircraft which have been made with traditional materials.

General list of benefits of composites (Composites Australia


  1. Lightweight (especially important in aircraft, ships/boats and cars for fuel efficiency and improved engine performance)

  2. (High) strength related to weight (can be designed to be stronger than steel at a fraction of its weight. Also has flexibility for strength to run in a particular direction) 

  3. Corrosion resistance (eg chemicals, salt water/air, ultra violet light)

  4. High-impact strength (can absorb high impact. Examples include bullets and explosions)

  5. Design flexibility (can be moulded into very complex shapes giving relative freedom to designers)

  6. Part consolidation (a single composite part may replace "an entire assembly of metal parts") 

  7. Durable (long life and reduced maintenance issues)

  8. Dimensional stability (does not change shape with variations in temperature; eg aircraft wings)

  9. Non-magnetic (can be used next to sensitive electrical equipment eg in hospitals) 

  10. Radar transparent (ideal for some military aircraft)

  11. Low thermal conductivity (great insulators - ideal for extreme weather situations)


Double click on the pictures below for additional information on each of the industries.

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