Did you know that the U.S. global composites market is a $22.2 billion industry? Or that by 2022, the end-product market for these materials will reach a whopping $113.20 billion?
That’s right! After all, the composite industry supplies materials to various other industries. From dental to sports, we have quite a long list of industries that rely on composites. In fact, there’s no doubt your own home contains many consumer goods made from these materials!
What exactly are these composite applications though? There are a lot, but we’ve rounded up 10 to start with, and we’re sure some of them will surprise you!
1. Dental Composite Fillings
Were you aware that 90% of adults in the U.S. have had tooth decay? And if not for dental composites, many of these teeth would have been long gone.
That’s right! Composite materials are widely used in the dental industry, especially for tooth fillings. They’re also a key material in dental bridges, inlays, and veneers. Even the bonding material that secures these oral appliances rely on composites.
2. Composites in Prosthetics
Composite manufacturing materials have also found use in medical devices, such as prosthetics. This is thanks to their superior strength, biocompatibility, and lightweight properties. Some of the most common composites used in these devices are carbon fiber and glass.
Composites, such as fiberglass, carbon, and Kevlar, are also used in orthotics. These materials, after all, are resistant to bending, compression, fracture, and stress. Such devices that use composite materials include braces, casts, splints, and straps.
3. Windows and Doors Manufacturing Applications
This may be one of the biggest surprising examples of composite, but yes, wood is actually a composite! That, in itself, is a reason composite is a big thing in the construction industry.
Aside from wood, fiberglass windows and doors are also made of composite materials.
Unlike regular wood though, fiberglass doesn’t swell or shrink due to temperature. This is why fiberglass windows and doors last longer than traditional wooden ones. Also, compared to vinyl, fiberglass delivers bigger glass coverage.
4. Manufacture of Bathroom Fixtures
With fiberglass’ affordability and longevity, you’ll now find them in bathroom fixtures. Unless you have a metal or stone tub, chances are, you have a composite fiberglass tub. Many of today’s shower stalls also use fiberglass.
If you’re considering upgrading your bathroom, consider fiberglass fixtures. They’re easier on the budget than most of your other choices, like brass, cast iron, or marble. Plus, this is one of the most eco-friendly composite materials in the market today.
5. Sporting Goods Manufacturing Applications
Experts say that sporting goods stores in the U.S. will make $52 billion in revenues this 2019. For starters, consumers pay more for higher performance goods. Carbon fiber reinforced composites deliver this improved performance in sporting equipment.
Tennis rackets, hockey sticks, and even bows and arrows today feature carbon FRC. They’re light in weight but are strong and durable enough to withstand constant use. Their lightness is also a plus in many sports where speed is vital.
6. Electricity Generation
8% of the operating electric generating capacity in the U.S. comes from wind turbines. And yes, composites make up many of the turbine’s parts, especially fiberglass.
That’s because fiberglass has good resistance to corrosion and high resistance to temperature. Also, it’s not only lightweight — it’s easy to manufacture too. Most importantly, it provides all these key turbine properties at a low cost.
7. Vehicle Armor
When it comes to armored vehicles, it’s easy to conjure images of heavy steel tanks. Steel, after all, offers high ballistic protection, especially against piercing ammo. Its biggest issue is its weight.
This has led to armored vehicle manufacturers looking into composites. Today, composites like aramid fibers (such as those used in Kevlar) are now used in vehicle armor. Fiberglass and carbon fiber also deliver mass efficiency for ballistic threat protection.
Ballistic performance is only one of their benefits though. Their lightweight features also contribute to better fuel efficiency, and ultimately, cost savings.
Also, the lightweight characteristic of composite vehicle armor helps improve vehicle speed. So, not only do they have protection against bullets — they can also avoid these threats.
8. Military Body Armor
Aside from vehicles, modern military body armor now also consists of composites. One reason is that metal and alloys once used in helmets are heavy and quick to deform. Their weight also hinders the agility of our military personnel.
Whereas composite fibers, like polyethylene FRC, are flexible. However, these fibers are 15 times more break-resistant than steel! Their flexibility and strength keep them from buckling or deforming.
That’s not all though. The use of composites in military applications also includes ballistics and weapons manufacture. Many aerial drones, launch vehicles, and even submarines have composites in them.
9. Aviation Applications
Composite materials, such as fiber reinforced polymer, are crucial to the aviation industry. Again, this is due to their structural strength comparable to metal alloys. But since they’re lightweight, they also improve fuel efficiency in aircraft.
10. Electrical and Electronic Applications
Safety is one of the biggest threats of faulty electrical equipment and devices. That’s why their components need to have excellent resistance against heat and friction. Otherwise, these parts can burn and even explode, causing fires.
The good news is, silicone-based composites have excellent heat resistance. As such, composites have found use in today’s circuit boards and circuit breakers. You’ll also find them in insulators, metering devices, and even your microwave.
Composite Applications Today and Beyond
There you have it, some of today’s most common yet integral composite applications. As you can see, composites are vital to average consumers, as well as their health and safety. Moreover, they make for higher-performance military equipment that makes our nation more secure.
Interested in learning more about composites and how it can benefit your industry? Maybe you have a business that composite materials can help with? Either way, feel free to get in touch with us so we can answer your questions about these materials!