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Chris Bell

What is the Future of Composites in the Construction Industry?

Composites represent one of the most revolutionary materials in the construction industry. A composite is made up of at least 2 materials. One is the comparatively softer material, which helps to provide the shape, but the other material is stronger to reinforce the strength of the composite. If you’re looking for examples of composite fiberglass and carbon fiber are among the most buzzed about materials.

Composites have been in the construction industry for decades now, but what is its future? Experts have been debating this issue, but several trends and possibilities have been bandied about.

Greater Familiarity

While the use of composites such as fiberglass are varied and versatile, composites are still not as commonly used as they perhaps ought to be. Those who are familiar with fiberglass and other composites are very much aware of their advantages: they offer design flexibility, excellent corrosion resistance, great strength with low weight, low thermal and electrical conductivity, control of water and moisture, and durability as they don’t rot, rust, or even damaged by insects.

Is what reasons account for why composites aren’t used everywhere?

Part of the reason is because composite materials are still somewhat unfamiliar to a huge number of builders. Many traditional builders are very much aware of what materials like wood and steel can do, so in their eyes these are reliable materials.

But composites are comparatively less known. Since they’re not used as extensively, builders aren’t fully aware of how they will do in the long run. Because they don’t have enough data, builders don’t use composites as much. It’s a Catch-22.

However, we live in an age in which extensive research is being conducted by various organizations on composite materials. Aside from private companies, studies are also sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and NASA. The knowledge they can discover can then easily be disseminated in this information era.

Lower Costs

The other main reason for not using composite materials is its comparatively high costs. It’s true that these materials come at a higher price, but these costs are often offset by the lower labor costs. Composite materials are generally easier to install because they’re lightweight.

It’s hoped that research can find ways to reduce the costs of composites. Like lower prices for PCs, LED TVs, and mobile phones, the lower prices of composites will also likely lead to greater use.

Newer Materials

In the past, new composite materials were discovered largely with a trial and error approach. Now a more systematic approach is being used for greater efficiency, aided by the use of lab testing and analysis. Engineers are now able to better predict how a particular combination of materials will react to specific conditions.

3D Printing

This is a dream of many, when 2 revolutionary technologies such as the use of 3D printing and composite materials can be used together. Composite materials are more easily shaped into even complicated designs. Now with 3D printing, builders can simply create the composite product they need themselves.

Imagine if a builder simply has a 3D printer with the composite material to build what they need. Projects can go much faster, and they will have the components that precisely come with the exact features they need. The quality of the project will be enhanced.

More Composites for Eco-Friendly Projects

Many composite fabricators are responding to the demand for more sustainable products, by using renewable and recycle content. Composites are also inherently eco-friendly because they don’t require as much material (due to high strength to weight ratio) and because of their insulation properties.

The future looks good for composites. With new knowledge, greater familiarity, and lower costs, more and more projects in the construction industry should make use of composite materials.