Why Use Composites?

Composites are ideal for almost any architectural application for a variety of reasons:

High Strength and Light Weight:

Composites are light in weight, compared to most woods and metals. Composites can be designed to be far stronger than aluminum or steel. Metals are equally strong in all directions. But composites can be engineered and designed to be strong in a specific direction.

Strength-to-weight ratio is a material’s strength in relation to how much it weighs. Some materials are very strong and heavy, such as steel. Other materials can be strong and light, such as bamboo poles. Composite materials can be designed to be both strong and light; they have the highest strength-to-weight ratios in structures today.

Corrosion Resistance:

Composites resist damage from the weather and from chemicals that can eat away at other materials. Composites are good choices for any harsh or exposed environment. Outdoors, they stand up to severe weather and wide changes in temperature.

Design Flexibility:

Composites can be molded into complicated shapes more easily than most other materials. This gives designers the freedom to create almost any shape or form. Most recreational boats today, for example, are built from fiberglass composites because these materials can easily be molded into complex shapes, which improve boat design while lowering costs. The surface of composites can also be molded to mimic any surface finish or texture, from smooth to pebbly.

Additionally, single piece made of composite materials can replace an entire assembly of metal parts. Reducing the number of parts in a machine or a structure saves time and cuts down on the maintenance needed over the life of the item.

Low Thermal Conductivity:

Composites are good insulators—they do not easily conduct heat or cold. They are used in buildings for doors, panels, and windows where extra protection is needed from severe weather.

Extremely Durable:

Structures made of composites have a long life and need little maintenance. We do not know how long composites last, because we have not come to the end of the life of many original composites. Many composites have been in service for half a century.

For more information, please contact John Busel at jbusel@acmanet.org

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