Discover the possibilities and the barriers of composite materials

In various sectors, composite materials can offer advantages thanks to their properties that are not possible with conventional materials. However, the limited awareness of these materials and their properties remains an obstacle to their (further) breakthrough. To promote the exchange of best practices, Sirris and Agoria Composites are organising a Composites Learning Network.

Did you know that the same object with the same functionality - or with improved properties - made from composite materials is up to 70% lighter than the steel version? In addition, mechanical properties such as stiffness, for example, can be adapted very locally to the needs of the design. It is something of a common practice to use such materials in the aviation industry since every kilogram counts in the quest for improved fuel efficiency.

Advantages for different sectors

However, weight reduction is not important in aviation alone; it is also a major factor in road transport where (electrically driven) vehicles can be made to drive a few kilometres further by reducing the vehicle’s weight, among other things. The fact that composites are more corrosion resistant is an additional advantage in winter conditions. 

The market structure of the automotive sector, however, does not allow for simply replacing steel parts with their composite counterparts on a one-to-one basis due to the inherently higher cost of composite parts. This brings us to the first of the barriers delaying their use: the cost that can or cannot be absorbed within the sector's business model. In order for composite materials to be an acceptable alternative, they must also lead to reducing the assembly time of a car, for example by reducing the number of parts through more complex designs. 

In other sectors, such as the construction sector, the weight (30% lighter than concrete), mechanical properties, long life (corrosion resistance) and low maintenance requirements can be decisive factors in opting for composite materials over the more traditional materials.

This is already happening in structures and buildings today, but is likely to become even more crucial in the future with smart & mega-cities or even floating cities. The lower weight alone can have a huge impact on the load on the machines during construction. Much larger pieces could also be made 'off-side' and brought to the site in one piece, drastically reducing construction time (and cost) as well as reducing the inconvenience to the surrounding area. 

Composites learning network

To promote the exchange of best practices, Sirris and Agoria Composites are organising a Composites learning network. During these 4 workshops, the first of which is scheduled for Thursday 23 September 2021, we will try to address a large number of these barriers in group by providing inspiration and knowledge. 

For more information and the registration link, please visit here.

Within the framework of the VLAIO project 'Industriepartnerschap', Flemish companies also benefit from a greatly reduced participation fee.


(Source picture above: Agoria)