Composites are formed by combining materials with different properties to create a new structure with properties that are unique from the individual components.
While there are many types of composite materials, this section focuses on fiber-reinforced plastics. These are fabricated by layering sheets of woven fiber in epoxy, and shaping the composite in a mold. This mold can be set in a vacuum bag for optimal conditions, or can be simply let set.
Commonly used in aerospace and constructive industries, FRPs are expensive and more difficult to manufacture than metal or plastic parts. Despite the manufacturing challenges, composites can prove a valuable asset to FRC robots as they are extremely stiff and lightweight.
The go-to material for projects that need to be tough. While considerably more expensive than fiberglass, carbon fiber has the highest bend strength and durability, making it ideal for FRC purposes.
In industry, fiberglass is the one of the most commonly used composites, as it it significantly less expensive than carbon fiber. While it is fine for lower stress projects, it lacks the strength and durability of carbon fiber.
You may know Kevlar from its use in the construction of bulletproof vests and other armor. From a robotics standpoint, kevlar is best used to add extra reinforcement to a piece made from carbon fiber or fiberglass.
Depending on circumstance, your needs might require a mixture of fibers. Sheets of mixed fabrics, usually mostly composed of carbon fiber, can be purchased interwoven with kevlar, aluminum, or other materials.