Industrial Composites

Composites are the hidden features within many of the things we rely on daily to live our lives, yet you likely don’t even realize the importance of composites in your life. For example, without the use of composites, it would be nearly impossible for us to fill our cars with gas, rely on appliances like dishwashers and stoves, and travel via airplanes, trains and cars.

But what are composites? Composites are a class of materials made from two or more different materials that, when combined, perform better than those individual materials / ingredients alone. In other words, composites help us solve problems, raise performance levels, and create endless opportunities for innovation. Composites offer many benefits, key among them are strength, light weight, corrosion resistance, design flexibility and durability.

The most common type of composite is polymer matrix composites, however, metal matrix composites, and ceramic matrix composites are also common, as are natural composites such as wood.

So many industries use composites: electrical, construction, transportation, agriculture, etc. But, the use of composites does not stop there. They offer clear advantages that make them an ideal replacement for a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, wood and granite. Composites are fast becoming the material of choice.

Transportation: It’s likely not a surprise that composites are used in our cars. Composites are used anywhere from simple covers and trays to more complex designs utilizing their high strength-to-weight and corrosion resistant properties. Also, under the hood and brake systems applications take advantage of the durability and heat resistance of composites. It’s not just cars.  Buses, RVs, heavy trucks, and emergency vehicles all utilize composites in their designs.  And, don’t forget the use of composites in snowmobiles, jet skis, and golf carts.

Household: As mentioned above, composites are commonly used in many household appliances like stoves and dishwashers. But, composites are also used in high-efficiency blenders to help make them quieter and stronger. Composites also help us wash and dry our clothes. Additionally, if you enjoy satellite television, it’s made possible by the use of composites in satellite dishes.

Water and Agriculture: Although many of us take our water for granted, water treatment facilities are essential to our continued health and longevity. Composites are used for water tank covers and for partition walls at treatment facilities. And, without water, it would be hard for our crops to grow. Some uses of composites in the agriculture Industry include seed planters and hoppers and tractor body parts. Composites are well-suited to these industries because of the versatility and customization options, as well as the long-term durability and ability to consolidate parts.

As our world continues to develop and innovate, composites will remain a leading industry. Without composites, many great ideas would be stalled or unattainable for mass consumption.

Challenges in developing composites

The challenge is that assessing the properties of a composite structure is more complex than assessing the properties of a single ingredient structure. This is because the composites are made out of multiple plies, each with different spatial extents and angles and/or one-dimensional additives such as glass fibers. As a result, the reconfiguration and the performance of the composite structure depends on many variables, such as the material properties, lay up sequence, fiber orientation, thickness, and the strategic position of laminae with different orientations. All these are variables in the equation of assessing and predicting the performance of the composite structure.

Given the high-dimensional nature of the composite design problem, with multiple variables to consider, it prevents the researcher / scientist from seeing the trees from the forest and this results in trial-and-error experimentation instead of data-driven decisions.

Additional common challenges in developing composites

• Managing the long process of developing a new formulation/product.

• Improving the performance of an existing formulation/product in a timely manner.

• Replacing supply chain ingredients of existing formulations/products.

• Data is highly multi-dimensional and requires long and tedious experimentation cycles to obtain it.

• Too many experiments and iterations to reach the desired performance target. Waste of time and resources.

• Lost information. Not every result is recorded, leading to less than perfect predictive models and waste of time and resources.

How MaterialsZone can help with developing composites?

• What if you had a tool that allows you to quickly overview and analyze the R&D data by visualizing the relations between all the variables in a single view?

• What if you had the option to predict the performance of a composite structure and a formulation you just thought of?

• What if the number of experiments to reach a certain performance target could be significantly reduced?

• What if you had a tool that recommends what the next set of experiments should be in order to reach your target with the minimum amount of experiments, hence, shorter time?

The value proposition of MaterialsZone

• One platform, all the data, all the insights, all the stakeholders (R&D, scale-up, manufacturing QC, supply chain alternatives selection).

• Easily applied AI/ML visualizations, insights and predictability.

• No loss of knowledge.

• Cut the number of experiments and iterations to optimize the formulation performance through design of experiments. This results in reduced R&D costs and faster time to market.

• Focus on parameters (variables) that really matter.

• Rapid accumulation of knowledge and predictability.

• Easy application of AI/ML visualizations, insights and predictions.

Composites development is similar to formulations development. Typically, designing or developing a new formulation is triggered by new product specifications to meet. Along with product specification comes constraints on the materials to use, processing constraints, etc.

To avoid trial-and-error methodology and stick with a data-driven approach, MaterialsZone has developed an efficient workflow for formulation development that will reduce your R&D efforts and significantly reduce the number of experiments and iterations needed to reach the desired formulation.