As most consumers are now making conscious efforts to support the sustainability movement, not a few ask questions about products made from composite materials. Apparently, the mere mention of plastic as a component of a composite material raises doubts over its eligibility as an environment-friendly and sustainable material.

Fiberglass for one is a composite material and is in fact the most common. Its application is everywhere, from sporting goods, to car bodies, boat hulls, building panels and similar other products. A fibreglass uses plastic material but is reinforced by fine glass fibers that is first woven as some kind of fabric.

Yet what exactly does composite mean and how does it fit in the sustainability conversations?

What Exactly are Composite Materials?

A material is composite if it was formed through the combination of two or more substances with very distinct properties. The combined substances do not dissolve but simply blend to work together to form a composite that has its own set of unique properties.

Actually, humans have been making composites for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations discovered that when mud and straw were combined, a stronger building block was formed. The mud’s compressive strength and the straw’s tensile property work together to create blocks that can withstand squeezing, tearing and bending.

Generally, composites are made of two different materials. The technology involves one substance to act as the matrix that binds together the reinforcing fibres or filaments of the second substancl.

The US Composites Market Anticipates Greater Demand from the Construction Industry in the Years Ahead

Historically, the transportation industry, particularly the aviation sector has been the primary user of composite materials, as the industry has great demand for light but sturdy materials.

Yet the greater future demand for composite materials in the US is expected to come from the construction industry. Although construction composite materials are more expensive due to complex production processes and rigid government regulations, there is now greater appreciation of the value added by the science behind the reinforced building materials.

Modern day construction composites are durable because they are guaranteed rot-resistant, non-splintering, as well as insect and borer-resistant. They also possess improved workability because of their structural, load bearing, low friction and compression loading properties,

They meet the sustainability criteria because construction composite materials are recyclable, non-leaching, toxin-free, UV-color stable and requires low maintenance.

Aside from construction composite materials, the industry also uses composite mattings as ground protection covers prescribed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Readers looking to learn more about composite ground protection mats can find additional information at the spartan mat website.