Composite materials are present in almost every item we use today. From the shoes and clothing we wear to the gym, to the cars and bikes we ride. Our lives would be significantly different without the presence of composite materials. The cutting-edge engineering processes that stem from the innovative blending of multiple materials and chemical compounds into the final product results in five significant advantages that give composites a permanent place in today’s manufacturing.
#1 Strength Without the Weight
Composites have a well-earned reputation for being lightweight and robust, making them ideal materials to be used in multiple ways. Developing an understanding of the various strength aspects within a composite will help you choose your project better. Some of these aspects include:
- The high comprehensive strength of composites, which measures material performance when under pressure, gives these materials a natural edge. However, this also means that matching the right composite material to your product specs is crucial.
- Shear strength, or how resilient material is to shifting layers, indicates overall weight load. A composite can be designed to control shear properties in many ways without adding weight to the material, resulting in additional product strength.
- Specific strength, the measurement of a material’s strength-to-weight ratio, tells you just how capable a material is. Composites are at the higher end of these ratio numbers.
- Tensile strength is how much stress a material can undergo before failing. Although composites are typically twice as strong as non-composites, this is vital to consider when selecting the right composites for your project.
The above attributes of composites give you a more comprehensive range of material choices that will endure far longer than non-composites. And although these can be used in an almost endless amount of manufacturing applications, each composite will have its pluses and minuses and may require the guidance of an outside consultant to select the best mix of strength and durability for your specific application.
#2 Resistance to External Elements and Environmental Factors
Material degradation is an important area when trying to build a superior product. Composites can be designed to resist multiple environmental factors or exposure to chemical elements that would cause seemingly strong materials such as steel to disintegrate. Some of the most notable external causes of material breakdown that a correctly designed composite can resist are:
- Chemical resistances to items known to cause deterioration, such as paints, adhesives, or exposure to daily chemical elements, leads to reduced maintenance and adds to the product’s lifespan.
- Improved thermal properties, such as long-term exposure to U.V. rays, higher melting points, or holding strength in frigid temperatures or broad temperature shifts.
- Composites bring improved resilience to regular usage wear and tear and will hold up better when placed under sudden, unexpected stresses.
The improved resistance to both anticipated and unexpected exposures to chemical agents or extreme temperature shifts is one of the most sought after advantages of composite materials. These serve to give composite materials improved versatility in any application.
#3 Durability Equals Reliability
Manufacturers value composite materials for their fortitude. A reliable product aids in building a strong reputation and an equally strong customer base. The high durability among composites reduces wear and tear maintenance and significantly reduces the risk of unexpected product failure.
The attributes of composite materials, as discussed above, helps designers build products that are resistant to weather or material fatigue caused by long-term stress or heavy usage. However, obtaining the knowledge and specifications of all possible composite materials that could apply to your project requires expertise. Utilizing a manufacturing consultant will free you from those concerns to focus on building the perfectly designed product.
#4 Composites Add Enhanced Design Flexibility
To say that composites provide a high degree of design flexibility would be a disservice to composites. One of the most significant advantages of using composites is their application to a limitless assortment of products. Product designers aren’t limited by the composites’ structural specifications, which can be molded and redesigned to create the perfect mixture of materials to make any project possible.
A design team can expand the breadth of their visions to include complex shapes and contours. Aesthetically pleasing, eye-catching products will endure the test of time and the customer’s regular use and are both cost-effective and straightforward. The use of powerful CAD tools and low-cost and production-ready prototypes allow for practical testing and accelerates the speed to market.
Use the Advantages of Composite Materials in Your Projects
The overall attributes of composite materials result in greater design freedom and high-quality products. When properly designed and used, composites accelerate prototyping phases and production runs. With these advantages in place, you can achieve significant cost savings in production and post-production while still building affordable, durable products. An experienced manufacturing consultant can help you choose the right composite materials for your next project.
PRL’s engineers have dozens of manufacturing options available to help you solve any challenge facing your product: CNC machining, custom tooling, 3D printing, thermoplastic molding, reverse engineering, and more. No matter what stage your product is currently at, we can create it and optimize it for manufacturing.