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Why Use Composite Fibre?

A composite is a combination of two or more different materials which together make a unique and superior material. Perhaps the most significant benefit of composite materials is that they can be custom designed to achieve project specific material properties.

Structural fibres embedded in a polymer matrix make up Fibre Reinforced Plastics (FRP). Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) are the most common form of FRP however there are many other types of structural fibres used. Some common types of fibres used in FRP are shown in the table below. There are also several polymer resins that can be chosen to form a laminate, each having different advantages. Some common resins include:

  • Vinyl ester
  • Polyester
  • Epoxy
  • Polyurethane
  • Polypropylene

Strength to Weight Ratio

The following table provides a comparison between the mechanical properties of common fibre reinforcements and metals such as aluminium, titanium and steel. FRP laminates can be designed to achieve a similar strength to steel with 3-5 times less weight.

Sandwich construction using light weight cores can further reduce the weight of FRP structural components. FRP sandwich panels are used in the automotive, marine and aeronautical industries where weight savings are critical.

Corrosion Resistance

Resin can be chosen to meet a wide range of chemical resistance requirements meaning that FRP can be used in applications where only Stainless Steel could be used otherwise. Composite fibre does not require the regular maintenance that is needed to maintain metals such as Stainless and Galvanised Steel and has proven to perform extremely well in areas such as chemical storage, processing, salt water environments and fuel storage.

Form and Function

Fibre composites can be manufactured to almost any shape or size with the use of purpose built moulds. This largely eliminates the need for post machining and means a single FRP part can be used in lieu of complicated multiple part metal assemblies. This can reduce manufacturing times and costs significantly. In the case of fibre composite bridges, BAC’s modular design has reduced on site installation times down to less than one day. Click here for more details on BAC’s CNC, plug and mould capabilities.

Low Thermal Conductivity

Composites are great insulators, and when manufactured as sandwich panels make an excellent choice for floors, roofs, doors, walls and containers.

Low Distortion

Composites have the ability to maintain their shape under varying temperature and humidity. This is particularly important where a tight fit between components is important, such as in an aircraft that regularly endures the effect of varying altitudes.


Fibre composites are inherently non-conductive warranting their use in markets where electrical safety and insulation is of paramount importance. Conversely, where conductivity is required, additives can be mixed with the resin to give selective conductivity.

Non-magnetic and EMI Transparent

Fibre composites are non-magnetic and electromagnetically transparent. This means that their use is ideal applications where sensitive electrical and computer equipment is needed, e.g. radar covers in aircraft and ships.

Fire Resistance

Fire retardant additives in resins and coatings allow fibre composites to be custom designed to specific fire resistance requirements.