Advanced composite fabrics are seeing more widespread use in industries that require strong, lightweight materials. The versatility of advanced composites makes them an ideal alternative to metals in a wide array of applications, ranging from ship building to pressure tanks to corrugated steel structures. As manufacturing methods for 3D fabrics improve, they continue to become more cost competitive with metals and other traditional building materials, and more cost effective in general.
Benefits and Features of 3D Woven Components
3D woven fabrics offer many unique features and benefits over competitive materials. Some of these benefits include:
3D orthogonally woven fabrics are stronger than previously used 2D laminates, due the lack of crimp of the yarns in the fiber architecture. Many available designs are also comparable in strength to competitive metals.
Advanced composites weigh significantly less than traditional metals used for crafting components, which makes them ideal for applications where weight is a factor. The lighter weight may also significantly reduce secondary costs, such as transportation.
Advanced composites are not subject to corrosion in the way that metals are, making them excellent for use in harsh or rugged environments.
2D advanced composites were subject to delamination, where layers crack and separate. This problem has been eliminated in the through thickness fiber reinforcement of composites based on advance 3D woven fabrics.
- Reduced labor costs
Making composite parts with 3D woven fabrics require much less labor than their 2D predecessors, making them more cost-effective. The combination of 3D fabric reinforcements and resin infusion may reduce production time and costs as much as 25%.
3D Woven Fabrics in the Aerospace Industry
In the aerospace sector, 3D woven components have become a popular and innovative alternative—in many cases replacing steel and aluminum alloys. Materials used in the aerospace industry are subject to a variety of special considerations. They must be fail-proof, lightweight, and contribute to maximum fuel efficiency. Additional requirements may include RFI and EMI safeguards, and lightning strike protection.
The aerospace sector has seen the following benefits from 3D woven fabrics:
- Fuel efficiency
3D woven fabrics contribute to overall lighter equipment weight, which is a primary driver of fuel efficiency in aerospace applications.
- Impact resistance
The increased impact resistance of 3D woven fabrics offers significant advantages over 2D laminates and some metals, making them an ideal material for aerospace equipment.
- Design versatility
Complicated designs can be produced in near net shape with 3D weaving. Fibers from a wide range of materials can be easily incorporated to add additional properties, such as fire resistance. Variation of the types of fiber and their alignment in the 3D woven fabrics provide for strength and stiffness only where you need them, making these composites superior to many metals when realizing sophisticated component designs.
- Cost effective
The advanced weaving methods used to create 3D woven fabrics produce high-quality, low-cost parts and components, helping engineers stay within strict R&D budgets.
Tex Tech is an industry leader in high performance advanced composites, as demonstrated by more than 80 papers we have published on the subject. Our in-house team of experts can help with prototyping, custom designs, and short-run testing services to help you develop tough, lightweight components that meet the specific needs of your operation or design.
Tex Tech’s 3D woven fabrics have endless applications across a wide range of industries and verticals. To find out more about the most recent developments in 3D woven fabrics, download our 3D Woven Components eBook.