The need for strong, lightweight materials to fabricate parts and components in critical industries has led to rapid advancements in 3D weaving technology. This has enabled manufacturers to increasingly use composites in place of traditional metals and plastics.
Composites based on 3D woven fabrics can often be used as lightweight alternatives to steel and aluminum without sacrificing strength or durability, making them ideal for aerospace, heavy industrial, marine, transportation, and myriad other applications.
A wide variety of fibers can be used in 3D woven fabrics to produce advanced composites. Some of the fiber types commonly used in composites include:
Numerous industries utilize advanced composites manufactured via 3D weaving, such as:
At Tex Tech, we are exploring a variety of solutions for the aerospace sector, including hybrid materials such as fabrics that include Kevlar, S-glass, or carbon. We’re also exploring the possibility of fabricating common preforms, such as I-shaped, H-shaped, and T-shaped preforms.
Composites have also become integral in the fabrication of aerospace tooling. This tooling often has to undergo repetitive autoclaving, so it must be able to withstand repeated cycles of high temperatures. Composite tooling offers a more affordable means to produce tooling for high-volume production of aerospace parts and components when compared to more traditional metal tooling. Using the thicker, fast infusing 3D woven fabrics and preforms can both speed the manufacture of the tooling and make it tougher, more durable.
The construction sector has turned to composites as a means to provide strong structural support without the heavy weights or high corrosion risk of metals. Architects and designers, in particular, appreciate the versatility and reduced costs associated with composites for construction.
Tex Tech offers pilings and 3D composite mats for use in the commercial construction market. We’re also working on developing composite I-beams, as well as C-shapes and various angles.
The innate corrosion resistance of composites makes them an ideal material choice for many industries with harsh operating environments, such as chemical production, power generation, and oil and gas. These sectors and many others have turned to composite fibers for their longevity and superior performance under conditions that other materials simply can’t handle.
Tex Tech currently offers composite solutions used in electric power generation, chemical tanks, water tanks, and fracking, among others. We’re always investigating new ways to use 3D fabric-based composites to replace steel or other metals in harsh operating environments, such as in cooling towers used in power generation.
The United States is facing an infrastructure crisis, leading to demand for innovative and affordable new material options for components. Composites have gained particular traction in bridges, where composite wraps are frequently used for repair and refurbishment of existing structures. While the applications for 3D composite fabrics are still in development for infrastructure, there is much room for growth in this area.
Across transportation vehicles and modes, one fact remains true: Lighter vehicles use less fuel. 3D composites have made their way into automobiles, buses, trains, and more as a means to decrease the weight of vehicles and improve fuel efficiency. For example, Tex Tech is currently exploring the possibility of creating 3D composite railcars and truck trailers to significantly reduce weight for commercial transportation applications.
The boat manufacturing sector relies on 3D composites as a means to fabricate marine components that can resist the corrosive effects of constant water exposure. The fast lay-up, higher strength, and toughness of composites based on 3D woven fabrics also makes them ideal for marine applications.
At Tex Tech, we’ve served the marine industry with the development of a glass Z yarn/carbon hybrid ideal for tooling carbon boat hulls and other carbon parts.
These fabrics are created using specially designed 3D looms. The resulting un-crimped yarn paths eliminate potential weaknesses in the 3D material, as tensile and compressive strengths may be compromised if the fibers are bent or damaged. Additionally, Z-fibers reinforce the fabric by binding it from top to bottom, increasing the ultimate toughness of the material.
Multiple features may be implemented as required, as 3D fabric designs are highly customizable. For example, an item fabricated from 3D composites may offer increased shear strength in one section and axial stiffness elsewhere as required by the application.
The Future of 3D Weaving Technology
Engineers continue to explore ways to develop 3D weaving technology and produce more advanced composites that can successfully replace traditional materials with stronger, lighter alternatives. 3D woven fabric has already found a permanent place as a lightweight alternative to metal in many critical industries.
Belcotex manufactures sustainable, environmentally friendly fibers that deliver reliability and versatility in numerous applications. These noncombustible fibers are designed for use with high operating temperatures up to 1050° C. Belcotex’s fibrous materials provide protection, insulation, sealing, filtering, and strengthening.
Tex Tech Industries utilizes Belcotex fibers in our high-end, woven, and nonwoven textiles, selected for the distinct advantages they deliver in a broad range of applications. Our proprietary Tex Tech Woven Style 10089 is composed of Belcotex fibers, providing unmatched benefits in the applications they serve.
About Tex Tech Woven Style 10089
Tex Tech Woven Style 10089 is a high-performance fabric that features quality construction with the following specifications:
100% Belcotex fibers, free from organic binders
Shot-free (Fiber Index 100)
2×2 basket weave
30×15 warp/picks per inch
Tex Tech Woven Style 10089 features superior thermal properties, with a melting range greater than 1500° C. This fiber is designed for long-term continuous use at temperatures up to 1050° C, making it an ideal selection for a range of high-temperature operations and purposes. Mechanical properties of the TexTech Woven Style 10089 include:
Weight of 15.7 OPSY
2% shrinkage at 475° F over two hours
MD breaking strength of 121.67 lbs.
CMD breaking strength of 62 lbs.
7 Mullen burst (lbs./in²)
Very soft hand
Woven fibers are available for combination with non-woven fibers. Virtually any woven fiber can be used, including popular options such as:
Pre-ox pan and para-aramid spunlace
Applications & Benefits
Tex Tech’s Woven Style 10089 is ideally suited for use in high stakes industries such as:
With the use of Belcotex fibers, the Tex Tech Woven Style 10089 delivers distinctive benefits and capabilities.
Belcotex fibers are used to protect people, capital goods, and the environment. You’ll find these fibers in non-toxic, life-saving systems; fireproof endothermic acoustic insulation and fire blocker; as well as passenger seats on airplanes; efficient automobile emission control; and heat shields and insulation within passenger vehicles.
Belcotex fibers are used as insulating materials for the purposes of saving energy and other resources while reducing emissions, supporting efficient emission control within the automotive industry, and in a range of industrial applications.
For heat and fire safety, Belcotex fibers deliver high-temperature heat sealing. These fibers are trusted in airplane passenger cabins, automobiles, and in a wide range of industrial applications.
Belcotex fibers are used to filter gases and fluids used in life-supporting systems, such as those found in passenger aircraft.
Belcotex’s lightweight construction technologies and fiber-reinforced composites provide strength to improve the durability and reliability of the products and components in which these fibers are used.
Learn More About Belcotex Products from Tex Tech
Belcotex fibers offer superior qualities that allow Tex Tech to produce high-performance, reliable materials for clients, serving a range of industries and applications. These superior fibers can be combined with other fiber material to create custom solutions offering the properties required to meet the needs of any application.
Learn more about how Tex Tech Industries uses Belcotex non-woven fibers to create superior textile options for a wide range of industries. Contact us today.
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:
3D woven fabrics contribute to overall lighter equipment weight, which is a primary driver of fuel efficiency in aerospace applications.
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.
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 ballistic or 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.
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.
Why are manufacturers choosing composites over metals?
Inside our eBook, "3D Woven Composites," we reveal the answer.