What are composite materials?
Learn exactly what carbon-fibre composite materials are and find out why they are so important to manufacturing
So what exactly is a composite? Put simply, it’s a material with two distinct components, typically carbon fibre and resin, which cancel out each other's weaknesses and produce a stronger material than either alone. Generally, it can be stated that fibres take the load while resin keeps the shape. The carbon fibre component comes in the form of a fabric, held in place by stitching, that can be then moulded to the required shape in preparation for resin injection or a pre-impregnated tow, laid up on a mould and put in an autoclave for curing.
This interaction between the two key components makes factors like orientation and layering more important than with other materials. A regular pattern in the fibres of a part, without “defects”, results in a stronger part. While carbon-fibre filament is just six microns thick, when correctly applied in the production of a Carbon-Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) material, it becomes the core of a material ten times as strong as steel at half the weight.