Partnering to Reduce Risk
Aonix has attended many conference panel sessions discussing what is needed to expand the use of composite materials. We have even contributed to the debate with our suggestion that manufacturers must be willing to take what they see (but we do not) as a risk. The rewards, as all of us in the industry know, can be great.
But let’s assume that you’re a manufacturer ready to try composites in a new application. What then?
If you approach the challenge as you would with other materials, the first thing you notice is that there are no “composite standards”*. The reason is that most composites are entirely man-made. Matrix, fiber, layup and processing−all of these can be manipulated to engineer a composite material to achieve almost any high performance property needed.
You can’t do that with alloys. Typical series production manufacturers don’t have the option of specifying a custom grade of steel or aluminum for your particular application. The alloys supply chain that delivers plates, tubes and bars to your receiving dock doesn’t work that way (and if it did, the costs would be… very high.)
The composites supply chain, however, is infinitely flexible and able to deliver a fully customized composite material to meet the performance requirements of your application precisely.
Sounds good, of course, and only one question remains: How do you design your application if you don’t know the inherent properties of the materials you want to use? The answer is simple. You design the composite material for the application and in conjunction with the application design. It is a bi-directional, iterative process that actually defines the composite material properties needed to meet the application requirements and your composite materials supplier should be ready and able to partner with you to get the job done. Together, you can eliminate the risk and reap the rewards of using high performance composite materials in your next application.
* We are aware that some composite material makers do offer standard products. These are generally aimed at low-cost markets and applications where material performance may not be an issue.