What are fiber-reinforced composites?

The expertise of REIN4CED lies in the field of continuous fiber-reinforced polymer composites. In the most general sense, a composite material is defined as a material consisting of more than one constituent. The combination of two distinct materials results in a material which has superior properties compared to the constituent materials. For example, reinforced concrete is a composite in the broadest sense of the word because it consists of concrete reinforced with steel bars or nets. Wood is also a composite, as it consists of cellulose fibers in a matrix of lignin.

Fiber-reinforced polymer composites are similar to wood, as they consist of reinforcing fibers embedded in a polymer matrix as well. Within fiber-reinforced polymer composites, the distinction between short and continuous fibers is important. Short fiber composites,are mainly used for non-structural complex parts. One of the most common short fiber composites is injection molded glass fiber - polypropylene. REIN4CED however, focuses on high performance continuous fibers. To fully exploit the potential of fibers, fibers need to be aligned to the load direction over the entire length of the object. Commonly used continuous fibers are carbon, glass and aramid. Natural fibers are also increasingly used. 

The combination of high-performance continuous fibers and a polymer matrix results in a composite material which is a lightweight alternative for steel and aluminium for structural applications. Compared to plastics, fiber-reinforced composites have outstanding mechanical properties per weight. The most interesting features of fiber-reinforced polymer composites are:

  • High mechanical properties per weight for lightweight structural applications
  • Excellent fatigue performance
  • Good impact resistance
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Large design freedom and near net shape production
  • Both small- and large-serie production possible

REIN4CED offers its expertise in composite materials to develop lightweight products that should meet these requirements.