Fibre-reinforced plastics, also called composite, are most notably characterised by one key factor: A “one and only” raw material does not exist.
Composite always comprise a combination of different ingredients. The most important components are the fibres, the matrix, and various chemical additives. The fibres are integrated into the matrix material – which then encloses each fibre and holds it in the component – through different processes. The additives can influence the reaction to fire, the component costs etc., and can even serve as reaction accelerator in a plastic matrix.
Different fibres can be used for the production of a composite component. Glass, carbon, natural, basalt, polymer and metal fibres are the most important ones. GRP (Glass fibre reinforced plastics) make up the largest market segment with more than 90 percent. The by now probably most widely known product group CRP (carbon-fibre reinforced plastics) only has a market share of 1 percent. Fassmer primarily uses polyester, vinyl ester, and epoxy resin matrix systems.
Glass fibre reinforced plastics are a lot more cost-efficient than carbon or aramid fibres but at the same time of high quality.
Glass fibres are the material most commonly used in fibre plastic composites, because processing it is especially uncomplicated, and it is explicitly suited for applications with a high level of mechanic stress. GRP is a popular material due to its outstanding material characteristics such as its exceptional strength, stability, and corrosion resistance, with a remarkably light weight at the same time.
When high strength and low weight are required, carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CRP) or aramid is the best choice.
The fibre composite material CRP embeds carbon fibres into a plastic matrix, usually epoxy resin. The mechanical characteristics of the hardened composite material show exceptional tensile strength and stiffness. The matrix prevents fibre movement under load.
The premium plus factors of aluminium are a better thermal conductivity, the recycling potential of the material and the effect of lightning protection as well.
A three-dimensional forming of the components is more difficult with aluminium than with fibre-reinforced plastic (especially for sandwich construction).