Process Economics Program Report 51B
Advanced Composite Materials
Published: November 1992
This report reviews the technology for manufacturing advanced composite materials (ACMs), thermoset and thermoplastic composites in particular. ACMs provide superior mechanical properties and are light in weight; they are used mostly in the areas of aerospace/aircraft and recreational sports.
In the 1980s, many companies rushed into the ACM industry with great expectations of major profits. Although several companies have dropped out in the past few years, as a result of the end of the Cold War and the general economic recession, future growth prospects lie not only in the continued demand for ACMs in the commercial aerospace and aircraft industries but also in the automotive industry.
Thermoset matrix resins considered in the report are epoxy, bismaleimide and polyimide resins. Thermoplastic matrix resins considered are polyetherether-ketones, polysulfones, polyphenylenesulfides, polyetherimides, polyimides and polyamideimides. The ACMs presented in this report contain glass, carbon, graphite and aramid fibers in the form of tows, rovings or woven fabrics. Economics for fabricating composite structures are given in terms of cost factors based on the costs of matrix resin systems and fibers used in the structures.