Home > Converting > Laminate Composites: What Do They Offer?

roll coater machineThere are composites—and then there are laminate composites. Often, business owners begin researching laminate composites with specific ideas in mind. These ideas don’t always accurately reflect the way these material compilations work and their unique benefits. With that in mind, we’re exploring what they actually are, how they work, and why they might benefit you.

Is laminate a composite?

Hold on—before we delve into laminate composites, let’s get one thing in order: is laminate even a composite in the first place? The short answer is “yes”, but laminate is not necessarily integrated in the same way that other composites are. If you really explore what makes a laminate a laminate, the product is very clearly a composite. A laminate puts together two or more sheets of material. Because they’re made up of different types of materials, these layers create a composite material.

What sets laminates apart from other composites is that an adhesive material keeps the layers together. This adhesive creates a permanent bond, forcing them to act as a single piece would—the layers move flexibly. In a sense, you can consider the adhesive another layer in the production of the laminate.

In short, while you may see laminate separated from other types of composites (sometimes referred to as “matrix” composites”) it’s simply its own specific type of composite.

Is laminate composite a good product?

Some business owners hesitate before using laminate composites, perhaps due to negative stereotypes surrounding the product. However, we use these materials in a wide variety of industries. Even aeronautical structures rely upon them. It’s true that laminate composites have a high sensitivity to impact loads, which means that they, like any products, won’t fit every single circumstance.

One of the reasons why we appreciate this material so greatly is that it’s rather stiff. You can’t easily bend or stretch them—they retain their shape, as well as a certain degree of toughness. They aren’t entirely inflexible, which adds to their general versatility. However, the stiffness adds to their strength. We make laminate composites to last. Subsequently, they’re quite strong and resistant to breaking. These products also tend to be lightweight. This makes them easier to use and apply for specific purposes.

For all these reasons, industries beyond the aeronautical space deem them more than good–but entirely necessary. Maritime transportation, automobiles, and civil engineering industries all use laminate composites. For those reasons, think before you dismiss laminate composites as cheap or “a compromise”. These products range greatly in terms of effectiveness. You’ll even find laminated materials under the sea!

What are the advantages of using laminate composites?

As previously mentioned, we favor laminate composites in a variety of different industries due to its stiffness and strength. However, these alone are not the only advantages of using them. Laminate composite offer a “high specific” stiffness—this means the stiffness corresponds to the weight ratio of the product. High specific strength, another notable quality of composite laminate, corresponds to weight and pressure in a similar manner.

Laminate composites also resist corrosion remarkably well. It takes longer for them to become fatigued in comparison to some of their competitors. They’re also resistant to high impact damage, despite the fact that laminate composites sometimes carry a reputation for brittleness. So in conclusion, laminate composites tend to hold up against a lot of pressure, as well as exposure to the elements.

Thanks to that high specific strength, a laminate composite tends to have a great strength to weight ratio. In the long term, this can save you money, and provides a material meant to last for the long term. We can also customize the fiber patterns of laminate composites in order to sustain the applied loads of pressure. The more easily we can customize these composites, the more effective you’ll find the resulting product in the long term.

What are the different types of laminates in composites?

When it comes to composite laminates you’ll find several different products. We divide the different types of laminates based on their stacking sequences. They are:

  • Angle-ply laminate. These laminates have layers of the same thickness and material. Additionally, they’re oriented on an equal level.
  • Cross-ply laminate. A cross-ply laminate is the type of laminate known for having angles oriented at zero degrees and 90 degrees.
  • Balanced laminate. When working with a balanced laminate, you’ll notice that it has pairs of layers of the same thickness and material. Furthermore, the angles of the layers have opposite signs, with an orientation at zero degrees and 90 degrees.
  • Symmetric laminate. What sets a symmetric laminate apart? In this case, the material, angle, and thickness of the layers are equal above and below the midplane.
  • Antisymmetric laminate. In this case, the layers above and below the midplane are equal, but the orientations of the layers have opposite signs above and below the midplane.

In terms of fiber composite laminates—the base materials vary as well. Some of the fibers used include cellulose, glass, boron, graphite, and silicon carbide. Like we said, we can customize laminate composites. A lot of that customization depends on the fiber materials we use.

While laminate composites may not serve every purpose, they do serve many—and we recommend exploring their potential further if you think they may match your need or if you’re looking for an industrial composite machine.

Fortunately, we’re here to help you. Call CTI at 419-924-5566 or contact us here to learn more.