Composites are artificially created materials combined to produce a resulting product that can be a lot more favorable in terms of weight, strength and utility. Most composite materials used in the aircraft industry is usually made of two materials, a reinforcing substance and a base material. The choice of the base material depends on the type of engineering requirements such as strength, conductivity, brittleness or thermal conductivity. A common base material used in Aircraft skin is fiber glass. Fiber glass is silica based extruded into extremely thin strands of fibers. This is basically glass in fine thin extruded fiber form. The fabric is extremely strong when mixed with a reinforcing substance or a resin formula. The resin is what supports the base material in place as it is wrapped around it. Another common base material used in composite materials are carbon fiber filaments woven together into a fabric that could later be cut, mixed with the matrix and molded into its final form. Economically, composite materials are currently expensive to manufacture compared to traditional building materials such as steel, aluminum or wood in terms of value per square footage. During the early 1990's prices of carbon fiber rose sharply and was subjected under scrutinity on grounds of price fixing, however, there are many other causes such as a low production capacity at time of a booming demand for the material. Hawker Beechcraft aircraft manufactures most of its current aircraft lineup mostly with composite materials. Other applications using composites include tires, brake-shoe pads, golf shafts, Formula 1 racing chasis and parts. The motor sport industry uses composite materials heavily on the skins and components of their high performance car to increase their power to weight ratio output.

In the aviation industry, a new aircraft design is not limited by the ability of engineers to solve a flight character problem, but rather, it is the lack of available materials that would satisfy a design problem. The development of composite materials has slowly replaced traditional aluminum and other alloys used in today's aircraft. Creating a finished composite part requires the base material to be impregnated with the matrix or resin. The matrix coating has to be thin enough preventing the composite material from becoming brittle, at the same time thick enough to reinforce the base material. The Impregnated material will be vacuum molded to prevent the formation of gaps on the laminate that would compromise its strength. The mould will be dried under heat lamps until the material becomes sturdy and ready for final touches. The upcoming Boeing 787 dreamliner would be the first commercial aircraft whose entire fuselage is made of composite materials. Having well over 50% composite material embedded in its design, the reduced weight of the new aircraft greatly increased its fuel economy as well as range.

Major composites Manufacturers
Hexcel Corp.
Cytec Industries Inc. (NYSE: CYT) US
UMECO composites (LSE: UMC.L) UK
Zoltek Companies Inc. (NasdaqGS: ZOLT) US
SGL Carbon (Frankfurt: SGL.F) (XETRA: SGL.DE) Germany
Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) US

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