evolution of composites
For the past 40 years composite materials have been in use in particular for aeronautic and space applications, mostly thanks to their high specific mechanical properties. Driven by aerospace application, the field of composite materials research has since then evolved from the initial search for very high specific properties alone. Driven by automotive and other large scale applications, it adapted to maintain high properties while reducing manufacturing time and production costs, and recently it has been including the need to integrate added functionality in the composite part. Today, glass- and carbon fibres are the most commonly used reinforcements in the composites industry.
In recent years, composites made from natural fibres have received increasing attention in light of the growing environmental awareness. Due to their low cost, low environmental impact, and relatively high specific mechanical properties, natural fibres are emerging as a new alternative to glass fibres as a reinforcement in composites. Due to inhomogeneous fibre properties, poor adhesion between fibre and matrix, moisture sensitivity, as well as poor flame retardant properties in some cases, an extensive use of natural fibre-based composites was impossible until recently.
However, significant research effort has been pursued in recent years to improve the characteristics and properties of various types of natural fibres. Areas of improvement include the selection of fibres for a better homogenization of their properties, and the development of surface treatments to significantly increase fibre-matrix interfacial strength, leading to the use of natural fibre composites in an increasing variety of products.
The Bcomp technologies make it now possible to use natural fibre composites also for structural applications. With their excellent damping- and impact properties, Bcomp developed poles, skicores, chairs and different high-performance bike accessories.