WHAT ARE COMPOSITES?

Synthetic composites are fibres combined with (synthetic) resin. These fibres and resins are available in many different kinds. This means composites can be made in a wide range of material combinations. The most well-known and commonly used combinations are carbon fibres and glass fibres, combined with epoxy and polyester.

Refitech Carbon Fibre Components is a leading manufacturer of composite components and compounds. We specialise in working with high-end carbon and glass fibres, combined with epoxy as a thermosetting resin. Refitech’s lightweight products are ideally suited for high mechanical impact, thanks to their strength and stiffness. It is because of these properties ensure that composites are often used to replace other materials, such as steel, aluminium and titanium.

Other remarkable properties of composites
Anisotropic materials
Another unique benefit of composites is that they are anisotropic materials. This means that their mechanical properties vary with different crystallographic orientations. The result is that composites can be used for a wide range of applications, with remarkable results. By contrast, metals are isotropic, meaning that their mechanical properties do not vary with different orientations.

Resistant to chemicals corrosion, radiolucent
Composites are chemically resistant. Carbon epoxy, in particular, is insensitive to temperature changes, which gives this material a high dimensional stability. On top of that, the material is corrosion-resistant and radiolucent, or transparent to X-rays.

Glass fibre
The properties of glass fibre are more similar to those of aluminium. For ‘high-performance’ applications, aramid and carbon fibres are commonly used, predominantly in combination with epoxy.

Examples of industries and environments in which composites are gaining ground

  • The aerospace industry
  • The chemical industry
  • Manufacturing
  • High-end engineering
  • Corrosive environments

In short: with composite materials you can design specific products, with specific applications and added functional value. Carbon composites offer many application opportunities, thanks to their specific properties.

Characteristics of composites

In general terms, composites offer the following distinguishing features:

  • A relatively low specific weight
  • Specific high strength (higher strength with less weight) and load capacity
  • Long lifespan
  • Low maintenance costs (especially long-term)
  • High shapeability allows for many product shapes
  • Various electric properties are possible, such as insulation or thermal and electrical conductivity
  • High resistance to acids and chemicals
  • Weather and water resistance: the material barely corrodes and absorbs very little moisture
  • Very good fatigue properties
  • RAM properties (Radar Absorbing Materials)
  • Good X-ray absorption, which makes the material almost invisible to X-ray equipment
  • Integration possibilities (strengthening, integration of inserts)
  • Good possibilities for both small batches and serial production
  • Good impact properties

Why choose composites?

Composites were initially developed to build airplane frames combining light weight and high stiffness. Their unique properties (lightness, stiffness and strength) quickly attracted the interest of other industries. Composite products are usually manufactured in moulds, with the high shapeability of the material playing a major role: with composites you can produce complex, double-curved shapes without significant additional cost. This is one of the main advantages composites offer over metals and other materials.
Another important features of composites is their high dimensional stability. Carbon composite products offer almost perfect thermal stability and do not shrink – an exciting property for components subject to a critical shrinkage tolerance.

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