The advantages of using composites over metals highly depend on the application. Generally speaking, the main benefits of using composites are:
1. Freedom to tailor the stiffness and strength of a part by varying the thickness and fibre orientation;
2. Lightweighting – in some applications, composites can offer significant weight reductions compared to metals because of their high stiffness and strength to weight ratio;
3. Reduced part count and assembly costs: in some components, the various parts can be integrated into a single part, thereby reducing assembly costs. Wind turbine blades are a good example of integral structures, with complex geometry, manufactured in one single vacuum infusion step;
4. Opposed to metals such as aluminium and steel, composites do not suffer from corrosion, thereby reducing planned maintenance and overhaul costs;
5. Because of the nature of composites, parts with very complex geometries can be manufactured. Several automated techniques, such as knitting, weaving and braiding can be used to create a preform, which is then injected with resin in Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process.
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