Why use composites for manufacturing?

The composite manufacturing process involves joining various materials, to create a product with enhanced characteristics. Composite products are often lighter and/or stronger than the materials used in their construction.

What is composite manufacturing?

The term composite manufacturing refers to using fibre reinforcement with a resin matrix to create products that are both light and strong. As well as these impressive physical properties, composites also offer economic benefits of lower weight and reduced fabrication costs. Because of this, they are ideal for use in many industries.

What are the composite manufacturing processes?

Composites are structural materials that are used in the manufacturing of various products. Some examples would be jet fighters, skyscrapers, etc. The most commonly used composite material is fibre reinforced plastic (FRP). FRPs consist of polymer resin matrices with strong fibres inserted into them to make beams or panels or shapes of different sizes and shapes. The polymer resin is also known as a matrix or binding material. Fibres are long strands that are usually made of strong materials like glass, aramid, etc.

Composite manufacturing includes the process of creating an object using composites and has different processes involved with it. Some of these processes are hand lay-up, spray-up, filament winding, pultrusion.

Hand lay-up is the most basic of all manufacturing processes. The process begins by cutting the reinforcement material into suitable shapes, which are then stacked up to form a mat. This mat is then placed over a mould that has the shape that you want your final part to have. After this, an adhesive is applied to the top of the mat. Once this is done, another layer of the mat can be added to it. This process continues until the required number of layers are achieved. After this, a bag containing catalyst is placed over it all and heat is applied for curing which makes the resin harden. The part that comes out after this process is known as a composite laminate.

The next manufacturing process on the list is spray-up. This process involves taking reinforcements which are usually chopped up and mixed with resin to form a slurry. After this, the slurry is passed over a spray nozzle where high-pressure gas coming out of the other end atomizes it into small droplets. These small particles are then sprayed onto a mould that has the shape of the final product that you want. Then, after this, it is cured with heat again. The part that comes out is also known as a laminate.

The last manufacturing process on this list is filament winding which is basically the layering of strands of material on a rotating mandrel to form a part. This process is very versatile as it can make any shape, given the right combination of materials and equipment.

Pultrusion is another manufacturing process that’s similar to filament winding as it also uses strands of material but with pultrusion, instead of being wound around a rotating mandrel, it’s pulled through a resin-filled channel.

Composite manufacturing has been around for years and will continue to be popular as the world becomes more environmentally conscious. There are various other processes involved with composite manufacturing but these three outlined above stand out from the rest because of their simplicity and effectiveness.

How is composite manufacturing different to traditional manufacturing?

The basics of the material are that it’s fibre in a polymer matrix. This differs from conventional manufacturing techniques because more complex shapes can be produced without extensive machining, with procedures such as automated tape laying used instead. The properties of these manufactured materials are typically superior to those created through conventional methods, which are not only heavier but also lack the ability to be shaped so easily.

What are the benefits of using composites in manufacturing?

Composite materials have significant economic, environmental and performance advantages over traditional materials, including weight savings of up to 90 per cent. The reduced weight means that much less fuel is required for transportation purposes, while the manufacturing process is also much more sustainable than traditional manufacturing. Additionally, composite manufacturing offers design freedom and flexibility to manufacturers, which can further reduce costs when compared with alternative materials.

What is Composite fabrication?

The process of joining together the right parts to create the finished article.

In composite manufacturing, fabrication can include many different processes, from cutting and drilling to glueing and bonding. In some cases, a number of these processes are used as part of a single manufacturing programme in order to produce precise components that require several stages of fabrication before they are ready to be assembled into a finished article.

Check out these pages to learn more about composites, why use composites and patterns and moulds.

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