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What Is Composite Materials And Application Of Composite Materials In Construction?

Last Updated on April 26, 2021 by Admin

Although many people think composite materials are for residential projects, their strength and ability to withstand high impact means they can also be used for heavy-duty construction.

Composite decking materials’ home improvements are great due to the many advantages wood composites offer.

From the vibrant look that makes your home look elegant and premium durability that ensures you can enjoy the decking for decades to ultra-low maintenance, composite decking materials are fantastic for homeowners looking to combine modern extravagance and functionality.

However, beyond home improvements, composite materials can be used for other construction purposes.

For example, they are being used in various industries like civil infrastructure for building bridges, roads, and pilings. Composite materials are also important in modern aviation, the automotive industry, among many others.

What are Composite Materials?

Composite materials are manufactured from two or more base materials. These materials may be natural or not and will still keep their separate properties after being mixed.

One material is the binder or matrix. The other material is known as the reinforcement. The matrix binds fibres or fragments of the reinforcement.

Mixing the materials means manufacturers get the best of both properties. This is why combining two materials ensures the resulting composite is stronger than each of the materials on its own.

For example, while one material offers strength and durability, the other gives you moisture resistance. When both are put together, you get a fortified material that is the best of both worlds.

Thermoplastics, cement, fiberglass, and composite wood are some of the most popular examples of composite materials.

With the global market for composite materials increasing by 15-20% yearly from its USD 288 billion in 2014, here are reasons why many builders and homeowners prefer them:

  • Some composites like wood composites are eco-friendly. They are made from rice fibres, straws, and materials that may otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
  • They are lightweight but have fortified strength at the same time
  • Allows flexibility and creativity of designs as you can mould the materials into complex shapes easily.
  • Offers premium durability and can last up to 25 years if properly maintained.
  • Composite materials require little in the way of upkeep.
  • Composite materials are good electrical insulators.
  • They have high impact strength.
  • Costs range depending on the type. For instance, thermosets cost lesser than polymer composites. However, due to their durability, aesthetic appeal, ultra-low maintenance, and ability to increase the value of any structure they are used on, composite materials are great for their price.

Applications of Composite Materials In Construction

From the 1960s up until now, there has been an increase in the use of composite materials in the construction industry. Here are some of the ways the materials are being used:

Composite Materials Are Used To Build Bridges

Composites can be used to construct entire bridge structures, bridge enclosures, and bridge decks.

Compared to conventional materials such as reinforced concrete and steel, composite materials have impressive strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios.

Home Improvements

This is probably the most common application of composite materials in construction. In homes, wood composite is an outstanding flooring option, especially for decking an outdoor patio, courtyard cladding, and so on.

Their versatility and flexibility mean homeowners can get creative with the designs. With the possibility of adding in-deck lights, composite decking can substantially improve your home’s overall appeal.

Composite Materials Can Be Used To Refurbish

Another application of composite materials is refurbishment. They can be used to strengthen existing structures like beams, floors, columns, chimneys, and cooling towers, amongst others.

For Civil Engineering

Besides bridge construction, composite materials are being used to build masts, pipes, towers, rail applications like trackbeds, gantries, etc.

Aerospace

Composite materials are also being applied to modern aviation. Today, thermoset composites are being used for fuselages, bulkheads, wings, and other civilians, military, and commercial aerospace applications.

Composite Materials Can Be Applied in Constructions in Corrosive Environments

Corrosive environments like chemical processing plants, oil and gas refineries, pulp and paper converting, and water treatment facilities require structures and composite materials ideal for their construction.

Common applications of composite materials in such areas include tanks, pumps, hoods, cabinets, ducts, fans, and grating.

Marine Applications

As composite materials are resistant to corrosion and have superb lightweight but strong attributes, they are ideal for maritime applications such as bulkheads, boat hulls, among many other components for commercial, recreational, and military boats and ships.

Composite Materials in Electrical Applications

With great electrical insulation properties, including arc and track resistance, composite materials can be applied to creating standoff insulators, motor controls, switchgear, circuit breakers, terminal boards, metering devices, arc chutes, and shields, etc.

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