Material & Capability Showcase: Composites

What is a composite?

A composite is the engineered combination of two or more dissimilar materials.  The combination of the materials results in new, and often more advanced, properties that are different from what each individual material can achieve.  At UFP Technologies, we typically create composites using foam with fabrics, films, and other specialty materials.  Composites can be custom-tailored to each specific application, in order to accomplish the unique requirements of the project.  The composites we produce are effective across all industries we work in, from industrial to automotive applications.  Composites have been proven to improve product performance and reduce cost, while resolving specific challenges and enabling the development of new products 1.

What materials are used to form composites?

Due in large part to our experience and expertise, we have the ability to combine a wide array of different materials into unique composites.  Some of the more typical materials we use to form composites include:

  • Foam – open and closed cell
  • Woven fabrics (i.e. ballistic, circular knits)
  • Non-woven fabrics
  • Adhesives (i.e. pressure-sensitive, rubber based, acrylic based)
  • TPU films
  • Natural fibers

What are some of the advantages of composites?

Obviously there is an enormous variety in the combinations of materials we can generate in order to achieve a near limitless number of benefits.  Some of the most common advantages we look to achieve with composites, include the following:

  • Superior strength
  • Corrosion and chemical resistance
  • Design flexibility
  • Thermal and acoustical insulation
  • Improved durability
  • Resistance to chemicals, moisture
  • Ability to form unique shapes

How do we combine materials to produce composites?

Most foam and plastic materials can be formed or bonded with other materials to create performance composites for specific applications.  UFP Technologies has expansive fabrication capabilities, including die cutting, compression molding, lamination, and many more.   We can also fabricate composite materials via heat-sealing, RF welding, and thermoforming.  Our ability to convert laminated and/or foam only constructions via our many fabrication methods allows us to satisfy virtually any requirement.

What are some examples of composites that UFP Technologies produces?

1. Natural Fiber Composites

UFP Technologies utilizes natural fiber as a base substrate in automotive applications. We design and manufacture applications such as door panels, seat backs, bolsters, load floors and packaging trays using natural fiber composites. Most natural fiber composite materials are typically manufactured from a mix of 50% natural and 50% polypropylene. We have the ability to specifically formulate material combinations to meet your custom automotive application.

2. Fabric CompositesAerospace & Defense Custom Components

We use fabric composites for a number of consumer goods such as helmet linings, protective sports gear, shoe insoles and many more.  For the medical industry, we utilize fabric composites to create products such as neck braces, wrist casts and other positioning devices that offer functionality and comfort to patients.  Fabric composites are also often used in aerospace and defense applications such as for uniform and gear components.  For example, we are able to combine ballistic material, a durable woven nylon material that is, pound for pound, five times stronger than steel, with fabrics, foams, and other substrates for applications such as duty belt accessories for law enforcement.

3. Glass Fiber – Polypropylene

UFP Technologies works with a variety of materials that utilize a glass fiber polypropylene configuration. Special blends are available to meet your specific application.

4. Honeycomb Composites

We manufacture automotive components with honeycomb composites. These include load floors, panels, and many under car applications. All bonding is done without adhesives, which lowers overall product costs. Strength and durability can be optimized depending upon your specific application.

1 – http://www.acmanet.org/professionals/index.cfm

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