The comparisons that follow therefore show a range of mechanical properties for the composite materials. The lowest properties for each material are associated with simple manufacturing processes and material forms (e.g. spray lay-up glass fibre), and the higher properties are associated with higher technology manufacture (e.g. autoclave moulding of unidirectional glass fibre prepreg), such as would be found in the aerospace industry.
For the other materials shown, a range of strength and stiffness (modulus) figures is also given to indicate the spread of properties associated with different alloys, for example.
The above figures clearly show the range of properties that different composite materials can display. These properties can best be summed up as high strengths and stiffnesses combined with low densities. It is these properties that give rise to the characteristic high strength and stiffness to weight ratios that make composite structures ideal for so many applications. This is particularly true of applications which involve movement, such as cars, trains and aircraft, since lighter structures in such applications play a significant part in making these applications more efficient.
The strength and stiffness to weight ratio of composite materials can best be illustrated by the following graphs that plot 'specific' properties. These are simply the result of dividing the mechanical properties of a material by its density. Generally, the properties at the higher end of the ranges illustrated in the previous graphs are produced from the highest density variant of the material. The spread of specific properties shown in the following graphs takes this into account.
Further comparisons between laminates made from the different fibre types are given later in this guide in the section on 'Reinforcements'.
Published courtesy of David Cripps, Gurit