Composite materials are made from two or more constituent materials with
significantly different physical or chemical properties, that when combined,
produce a material with characteristics different from the individual
components. The individual components remain separate and distinct within
the finished structure.
Most composites have two constituent materials:
- Matrix
- Reinforcement
Reinforcement :The role of reinforcement in composite materials is primarily
to add mechanical properties to the material such as strength and stiffness
Reinforcements basically come in three forms:
• Particulate
• Discontinuous fiber
• Continuous fiber

Reinforcements become fibers when one dimension becomes long compared to
others. Discontinuous reinforcements (chopped fibers, milled fibers) vary in
length from a few millimeters to a few centimeters.

Composites are being considered to make lighter. Composite materials may someday have big advantages over steel in automobile manufacturing. whereas the fibers make the matrix stronger and stiffer and help it resist cracks and fractures. safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Most composites consist of fibers of one material tightly bound into another material called a matrix. One of the oldest and best-known composites. or a ceramic material (though materials such as concrete may also be used). carbon. silicon carbide. Composites are classified according to their matrix phase: • Polymer matrix composites (PMC's) • Ceramic matrix composites (CMC's) • Metal matrix composites (MMC's) Composites are made by combining two or more natural or artificial materials to maximize their useful properties and minimize their weaknesses. Fibers and matrix are usually (but not always) made from different types of materials. combines glass fibers (which are strong but brittle) with plastic (which is flexible) to make a composite material that is tough but not brittle. A composite is composed of a highperformance fiber (such as carbon or glass) in a matrix material (epoxy . Composites are typically used in place of metals because they are equally strong but much lighter. glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GRP). while the matrix is usually plastic. or asbestos. The fibers are typically glass.Matrix: The role of the matrix is to bind the reinforcement together so that the applied stress is distributed among the reinforcement and to protect the surface of the reinforcement from being damaged. metal. The matrix binds the fibers together somewhat like an adhesive and makes them more resistant to external damage.

” Eventually Adams was selected to lead the U. which are a special class of composite structures made by attaching two thin composite facesheets to a thick. Adams and his associates are addressing these issues. 2. low-density core of balsa wood or foam. “Investigating the mechanics of damage tolerance required understanding the failure progression (the types and locations of failure). which is why it’s the material of choice today. Carbon-fiber composites weigh about onefifth as much as steel.S. They also do not rust or corrode like steel or aluminum. but are as good or better in terms of stiffness and strength. Adams began studying how to make sandwich composites more “damage tolerant.” Adams says that the strength and stiffness factors are why composites are currently used in aerospace applications. “It required that we look carefully at what was happening after there was already an initial failure. as well as excellent energy-absorbing capability per mass. But composites can be designed tobe strong and light to provide better safety and fuel efficiency. Engineering for Crashworthiness Adams’ research focuses on the mechanics of sandwich composites. according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). “However. multiple-layer composite laminates can be designed to absorb more energy in a crash.” where the structure can still meet its load requirements after it has sustained some type of initial damage.” says Dan Adams. Sandwich composites are of interest for automotive floor and roof applications. and they could significantly increase vehicle fuel economy by reducing vehicle weight by as much as 60 percent. And compared to single-layered steel in cars. along with design safety. professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah who is collaborating with ORNL on the development of test methods for automotive composites.” says Adams.” he says.polymer) that when combined provides enhanced properties compared with the individual materials by themselves. Automotive Composite Consortium’s first . the use of these materials in the automotive industry has been very limited partly because of the costs associated with the materials and manufacturing. “Steel is strong and inexpensive. we get high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios. as they develop test methods and assess candidate composites for automotive applications. Nearly two decades ago. “With composite materials. which also require a material that is extremely light.

whereas composites typically crush in a more brittle manner. Adams is continuing to develop test methods for assessing crashworthiness of composites with organizations such as ORNL and Engenuity Limited. but everything else is intact. Lowering Costs for Automotive Composites Affordability is an important issue in vehicle manufacturing.” he says.research investigation into the “crashworthiness” (the ability to protect occupants in a crash) of sandwich composites.” he says. crashworthiness was a natural extension of damage tolerance. “For me.” says Dan Adams. 3. The government is hoping to facilitate their safe deployment by 2020. “It was really exciting to have the opportunity to identify what needs to be done in the next ten years to make automotive composites a reality. “No accepted test methods exist and we need them to screen materials for crashworthiness as well as to provide the required experimental results for validating computational modeling methods. professor of mechanical engineering. “Energy is absorbed through repeated failure of the material. The ideal case would be the composite structure being broken into tiny pieces where the crush occurs.” Adams says. In 2010. Adams was selected by the U. Adams says that composites can meet or even exceed safety requirements in a crash because they can be designed to absorb significantly more energy than traditional metallic metals when crushed. “Metals absorb energy in a crush by yielding.” With the proper design. Conventional sandwich composites would quickly come apart with the facesheets debonding and the remaining core buckling or being pushed aside with little energy being absorbed.” Already the initial sandwich design Adams and his students worked on a few years ago has made its way into the Chevrolet Corvette.K. an engineering consulting company based in the U. “We just kept applying load to an already failed sandwich panel and examined how it crushed. . Department of Transportation to write a 100-page white paper on the current status and research needs for plastic and composite intensive vehicles. The materials have to be designed to fail in a controlled manner.” he says. “The issue with today’s composites is that they have been developed for aerospace applications where cost is not as critical. which includes factoring in the costs associated with a car’s complete life-cycle—including manufacturing. operating and disposal costs.S.

more economical.” says Adams. most cars are still made from steel. says Adams. Engineers believe carefully designed composites could cut the weight of a typical steel car by as much as 40 percent. increasing fuel economy by as much as a quarter.” Basics of composite materials Why are they more useful in automotive than metals Composites are not just useful in making things fly. and more environmentally friendly. and composites could help achieve all three. We could make these materials very affordable. carbon-fiber composites cannot yet compete economically with steel in the auto industry. yet maintaining body strength and crash-resistance. As a result. The raw material. Hightemperature ceramic-matrix composites are also making possible cleaner-burning. the energy needed to heat it to make fibers.Pound for pound. and the automotive industry is unlikely to use them until the price of carbon fiber drops significantly. The raw carbon material is converted to carbon fibers using thermal pyrolysis. There are less expensive ways of manufacturing composite automobile parts that also reduce the number of joints and fasteners. they can offer better performance than metals at high temperatures and do not develop potentially dangerous weaknesses such as fractures and fatigue. “The development of low-cost carbon fiber is an active research area with great promise. Apart from being lighter and stronger. “Also the development of low-cost manufacturing methods for automotive composites is receiving a lot of attention. a slow. Cars of the future must be safer. energy-consuming process that is combined with stressing to achieve a high percentage of carbon with the proper fiber tension. The processing of carbon fibers is too expensive and slow. . Composites are increasingly used in place of metals in machine tools. more fuel-efficient engines for both cars and trucks. and the required equipment all contribute to the high cost. material costs of carbon fiber composites are at least 20 times as much as steel. Although composites such as GRP have been used in the manufacture of automobile parts since the 1950s.

Pultrusion is used today in the manufacture of linear components such as ladders and moldings. would emerge as the dominant forms of molding for the automotive and other industries. Carbon fibers improved thermoset part stiffness to weight ratios. compression molding of sheet molding compound (SMC) and bulk molding compound (BMC). Filament winding became the basis for the largescale rocket motors that propelled exploration of space in the 1960’s and beyond. 1960’s In 1961. sporting goods.History of use of composite materials in automotive 1940’s By 1947 a fully composite body automobile had been made and tested. thereby opening even more applications in aerospace. 1970’s and 1980’s Fiber development in the late 1960’s led to fibers made from ultra high molecular weight polyethylene in the early 1970’s. which was made using fiberglass preforms impregnated with resin and molded in matched metal dies. 1950’s In early 1950’s. but it was several years before carbon fiber composites were commercially available. and consumer goods. several methods for molding were developed. Progress in advanced fibers led to breakthroughs in aerospace . This car was reasonably successful and led to the development of the 1953 Corvette. and large-scale filament winding were developed. vacuum bag molding. first carbon fiber was patented. automotive. Eventually two methods. During this period. The marine market was the largest consumer of composite materials in the 1960’s. manufacturing methods such included pultrusion.

g. . and many other applications. In the mid-2000s. cross-arms and insulators.g. Composites began to impact the electrical transmission market with products such as pole line hardware. 1990’s and 2000’s By the mid 1990’s. the automotive market surpassed marine as the number one market – a position it retains today. structural and personal armor. medical devices. appliances and consumer products industries. like PVD and THERMTIAL™.g. sporting equipment. Composites were just beginning to find their way into nanotechnologies.components. Industrial Designers and Engineers began specifying thermoset composites for various components within the Appliance. In the 1970’s. waffle makers) industries. grew the number of applications in automotive. especially into higher temperature ranges and corrosive applications. Construction. Motor Assembly (e. Inc. As a cost effective replacement to traditional materials like metal and engineered thermoplastics. the development of the 787 Dreamliner validated composites for high-strength and rigid applications. Mar-Bal. Electrical and Transportation industries. Mar-Bal began small and custom molded components for the Electrical (e. Consumers came into contact with composite materials every day from Handles and Knobs on their gas driven ranges to beautifully stained entry doors of their homes and utilized within electrical infrastructure for the safe and effective delivery of electricity. breakers). was formed in 1970 and began their journey of becoming the most integrated Thermoset Composites Solution Provider of today. housings) and Small Appliance (e. New and improved resins continued to expand composites market. Continued development of finish technology. composites hit mainstream manufacturing and construction.

Composites are popular in their use in vehicles. The Jaguar XJ220 used an aluminum mixture while the Bugatti EB110 used a combination of aluminum. Interestingly. the first car produced using composite materials was created in 1957.Examples of parts made of composite materials used in automotive When it comes to using composites in the production of parts for vehicles. They are lighter. a variety of materials as well as chemicals are combined to produce a molding which is not only strong. The use of composite materials in vehicles has become extremely popular if not necessary in producing vehicles that can withstand the speed they are pushed to. but can withstand the forces of wind and other elements. While some cars that use this method are not solely used for racing. more flexible and have added benefit’s that steel can’t offer. their body styles and composite makeup make street legal cars like the Mclaren . Carbon Fiber Chassis is a popular method of constructing some of the coolest cars on the block. In the early 1990′s numerous super-cars like the Jaguar XJ220 and the Bugatti EB110 used a variety of composite materials for their body structure. carbon panels as well as steel.

these cool cars are sure to draw a crowd. . While the price for producing these cars and the sticker price are somewhat high.MP4-12C a popular choice for high end car enthusiast.


In the BMW M3 model. The composite roof is 6 kg lighter than a conventional steel roof.1 kg was realized.Also BMW goes for composites. and its crash performance was three to four times better than the metal beam. Glass/polyamide bumper beam for BMW M3 . the aluminium bumper beam has been replaced by a glass/polyamide bumper beam. The BMW M6 has an overall weight of only 1710 kg. A weight reduction from 7 kg to 3.

plastics meet the challenges of an industry whose demands are greater than ever. safety. 4. In short. fuel efficiency.BMW M6 with carbon fibre roof Future trends Composites research is attracting grants from governments. Conclusions The automotive industry today is a very competitive industry. Environmentally friendly resins will incorporate recycled plastics and bio-based polymers as composites the feed the demand for stronger. While motorists want high performance cars with greater comfort. Continual innovation is a key feature in the use of plastics in cars. style and lower prices. lighter and environmentally friendly products. Plastics will continue in the next decade to help designers and engineers to innovate and take car performance further. These investments will find new fibers and resins to create even more applications for composites. manufacturers and universities. society demands lower pollution levels and increased recovery at end of life. .

5. List of References .