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What are commonly used core materials in composites sandwich structures?

asked 2016-05-10 20:46:56 -0500

What are commonly used core materials in composites sandwich structures?

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answered 2016-05-26 06:29:58 -0500

Greg Kress gravatar image

There are 4 categories of core materials:

  1. Honeycomb: Nomex, fiberglass, aluminum, plastic
  2. Foam: polystyrene, polyurethane, PVC, and polyimide
  3. Wood: Balsa, plywood (as a reinforcement)
  4. Syntactic: A light weight resin/microballoon mixture

The most common of these used in commercial/military aerospace in the US is honeycomb core. The use of honeycomb dates back to the 1960's with the Lockheed C5 aircraft, where many panels were made from aluminum skin adhesively bonded to aluminum honeycomb core (the predecessor of modern day composites). This was followed by fiberglass core, and now Nomex core is very popular.

Foam core is very popular in the Europe. Foam core is also very popular in experimental aircraft. Bert Rutan became famous with his moldless sandwich construction technique, where the cross sectional shape of the wing was "hotwire" cut from a block of expanded polystyrene foam (blue foam that is typically used for flotation blocks in making floating docks.)

The marine industry uses a lot of foam core and balsa core. The use of honeycomb core typically requires skins made from prepreg materials, with minimal resin flow, so that the resin does not fill the honeycomb core cells. However, there is durable plastic honeycomb called NIDA core that has a mesh scrim cloth fused to both surfaces of the core specifically to allow the wet layup skins to form a good bond but prevent the resin from filling up the core cells.

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Asked: 2016-05-10 20:46:56 -0500

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Last updated: May 26 '16