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Common applications for composite materials(1) (2)

Time : 2023-05-10 Hits : 4

In the previous article we covered a few common areas of application for composites, and in this article we will continue with others.

The new energy sector

The use of composites in renewable energy sources will play an increasingly important role by creating structures that can harness sustainable energy. Lighter weight, lower transport and installation costs compared to metal structures and, most importantly, lower maintenance costs throughout the life cycle of the structure are factors that have positioned composites as the de facto material that can provide an economical solution for large scale projects.

The light weight and complex airfoil shapes of wind turbine blades have made composites a leader in the field, using moulds designed to manufacture blades economically with minimal labour. Current research and development is aimed at meeting the increase in size required for turbine and rotor blades for land-based and offshore systems.


Marine sector area

FRP composites have been used successfully for decades in marine applications such as radomes and mass structures, superyachts, work boats and leisure boats. More recently, FRP has been used for less well-known applications such as bearings, propellers, commercial hatch covers, exhausts and topsides structures.

The use of glass fibre composites in marine applications was one of the first major areas of GRP application. It has revolutionised the ability to design and manufacture large composite structures in a number of areas. Ships are manufactured in the UK through a variety of processes including hand laid GRP, resin infusion, thermoplastics and high performance carbon fibre prepregs for racing yachts.

The key benefits of GRP in marine applications are

1.Environmental resistance, including freedom from rot, corrosion resistance etc.

2.Ability to process seamless, complex shaped structures

3. Ability to adjust strength to suit load conditions

4.Excellent strength-to-weight properties - GRP marine structures are typically half the weight of equivalent steel structures.

5.Low maintenance and easy to repair

6.Excellent durability

Yachts make more extensive use of composite materials than any other marine structure. Due to special requirements, the materials used are not typical marine construction materials. Minimum weight and maximum stiffness are essential in their design in order to be able to sail at maximum speed and to resist the effects of waves and other elements of the marine environment.

Carbon fibre reinforced epoxy composites are commonly used for hulls, frames, keels, masts, poles and booms, carbon winch reels and shaft systems with honeycomb or foam cores. The use of FRP helps to improve performance and minimise the risk of navigational defects and failures in different international sailing conditions.

Piping systems sector

Composite piping systems have been used in chemical plants for over 25 years. the use of composites in industrial applications became widespread in the 1970s. Today, there is an upward trend in the installation of composite pipes and tanks above and below ground, in commercial, municipal and residential applications. The market for low-cost natural gas is expanding further as new chemical facilities are being developed and older facilities are being expanded.

Typical applications and products for composite piping include

Air pollution control


Chemical processing

Seawater desalination

Oil and gas

Water and wastewater treatment


Pipe Fittings & Lining

Pipeline Systems

Tank linings

Oil storage tanks

Process vessels



Sports and leisure sector

Carbon fibre has long been prominent in sporting goods, from racing to skiing, golf, fishing and tennis. As carbon fibre has become increasingly popular and prices have fallen, it has found more use in sporting goods.

Many rackets, skis, sleds, hockey sticks, fishing rods, golf clubs, bicycles, surfboards, kites, shoes and other sporting products are now made from carbon fibre.

Composites are now used in 7 of the 10 most popular outdoor sports and leisure activities. Glass fibre and carbon fibre reinforced composites continue to replace wood and metal in fishing rods, tennis rackets, kayak paddle spars/shafts, windsurfing masts and boards, hockey sticks, kites and bicycle handlebars.


Transport sector

There is a trend in the transport sector to use larger vehicles. Whether it is a bus, a train or an articulated truck, the idea is simple: to carry more cargo. The challenge is to find ways of carrying larger loads safely, while saving fuel and reducing the environmental impact. Composite materials offer an impressive answer to this challenge.

The automotive and transport industry, which has long held a large share of the composites market, is committed to complying with stringent regulations, such as the average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards set by the US and European governments and the European Emission Standards (EES). In order to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which have a negative impact on the global climate, car manufacturers in these regions are focusing on producing lightweight vehicles with composites to comply with government regulations and improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles.


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