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Composites and Fastening Challenges

Composites and Fastening Challenges

Each day manufacturers face fastening challenges. Some of those challenges that have been increasingly present are those surrounding composite materials. As composite materials grow both in range and volume of applications, so do the challenges to find the right fastening solutions.

To understand what problems arise in these types of situations, we must first examine composites. Composites are materials engineered from two or more constituent materials with different physical or chemical properties. Composites are made up of two components: the matrix and reinforcement. Examples of matrices are resins, ceramics, polymers or cements. Reinforcements are typically fibers, sandwich cores or aggregate. The matrix material surrounds and supports the reinforcement material and the reinforcement material imparts its special mechanical and physical properties to enhance the matrix properties.

Composite materials are formed into a shape during their manufacturing process, typically in a mold cavity or on a mold surface. During this process, the synergy created between the two materials results in a composite material with properties that cannot be achieved when using either material alone.

The ability to combine different constituent materials to create superior new composite materials allows engineers to target improvements in cost, weight, strength and handling as their product applications and manufacturing processes demand.

Growth of Composite Use

Over time, composites and plastics have started to replace traditional materials such as wood and metal. Modern composite materials are lighter, stronger, versatile and more mechanically stable than traditional materials in many cases. The debate between lighter composite materials and traditional heavier metals in the automotive industry is still ongoing. More than ever, major car makers are introducing carbon fiber into their luxury models and many are examining the ways to replace structural elements traditionally made in heavier metal.

Fastening Challenges of Composites

The expansion of lightweight composite materials presents challenges as well as opportunities. One of the key challenges is how to securely fasten to such materials. Traditional fastening systems designed for sheet metal such as rivets, bolts and clinched fixings designed for metal are often incompatible with composites or require too many compromises to work. Design and process engineers often run into the problem of being limited by fastening solutions when working with composite materials.

To learn more about composites, contact Bossard at ProvenProductivity@bossard.com.

 

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September 05, 2014

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