Reinforcement

The properties of composites are dependent on the type, amount, and orientation of reinforcements that are selected for a particular service. Many materials are capable of reinforcing polymers. Although most commercial reinforcements are man-made, naturally occurring materials find use such as biomass.


There are many commercially available reinforcement materials and forms to meet the design requirements of the user. The ability to engineer the reinforcement architecture allows for the optimized performance of a product that translates to weight and cost savings.


Today, glass fibers account for more than 90% of the fibers used in reinforced polymers because they are inexpensive and have relatively good strength-to weight characteristics.

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Fibers

Reinforcements = Fibers

The majority of composites are manufactured with fibrous reinforcements due to their unique features:

  • Fibers have high mass-specific strength and stiffness as compared to bulk materials.

  • Textiles can be oriented to provide tailored properties in any direction.

  • Fiber reinforcements carry the load efficiently along the length of the fiber to provide strength and stiffness.

Main forms of fibrous reinforcement structures:

  • Rovings

  • Mats

  • Woven, Stitched, Braided & 3-D Fabrics

  • Unidirectional tapes, tows

  • Prepregs 

  • Chopped & Milled Short Fibers

Glass Fiber

Highly Versatile

  • Low cost

  • Impact resistance

  • Stronger than steel in certain forms

  • Transparent to radio signal

  • Electrically insulating

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Carbon Fiber

Lightweight, Strong

  • High temperatures

  • High strength

  • High modulus

  • Extremely lightweight

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High-Performance Polymer Fibers

Extremely Tough, Lightweight

  • Aramids, UHMWPE, LCPs etc.

  • Low density

  • Damage / impact resistance

  • Compression

  • Flexible

  • Heat, electricity insulation

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Additives & Fillers

Design Flexibility

Additives are used in composites to modify materials’ properties and tailor the laminate’s performance. When added to the resin, fillers can reduce cost and improve properties including water resistance, weathering, surface smoothness, stiffness, conductivity, and stability.

  • Common fillers: calcium carbonate, kaolin, clays

  • Fumed silica

  • Fire retardants

  • Hollow glass beads

  • Conductive additives

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