Assesses the fibres and resins used in composites, and examines the benefits and advantages offered by products made from composite materials
Profiles key players in the sector, namely: Saint-Gobain, Owens Corning, and Johns Manville
Provides a wealth of information, data and analysis on the market for composites, and presents it clearly - to save you time
Recent Successes in Composites
Marine: The Mirabella V
Marine: Carbon propellers
Wind trubines: LM Glassfiber
Space: Solar sails
List of tables
Table 1: Distribution of the global glass reinforcement market by resin type, 2000
Table 2: Production of glass fibre for composites by geographical region, 2002
Table 3: World distribution of glass-fibre reinforced composites by end-use application, 2002
Table 4: World capacity of PAN-based small tow carbon fibre, 2002
Table 5: World capacity of PAN-based large tow carbon fibre, 2002
Table 6: European wind turbine capacity, 2000 and 2004
They consist of a tough fibrous material such as glass fibre bound together with a resin.
The result is a structure which is light in weight and strong. Many critical industrial, aerospace and military applications make use of composites because of their durability and their resistance to severe environmental conditions at a reasonable cost.
In spite of their obvious benefits, composites still account for only 0.2% of a market which remains dominated by metal, plastics and wood.
However, their use is growing rapidly. In 2002 alone growth in North America and Western Europe is estimated at 20%. About 90% of composites are based on glass fibre, combined with polyester or vinyl ester resins. However, the use of natural fibres such as hemp and flax has been growing rapidly. Ford Motors, for example, is committed to using wood and natural fibre-reinforced composites for structural purposes. This would take these materials well beyond their present cosmetic uses in trim. Ford has even predicted that car bodies themselves will be constructed from natural
fibre composites in the medium term.
Composites can be made from many types of natural fibre. As well as flax, hemp and jute, candidates include less obvious materials such as straw, wood fibre, kenaf, wheat, barley and cane. Natural fibres have the advantage of being renewable. Also, many natural fibres, including pineapple leaf fibre and water hyacinth, are waste products and are available at minimal cost.