Exploring the Strength and Versatility of Composite Sandwich Structures
20th June 2023
Applications Specialist, Sonatest
A composite sandwich structure, also known as a sandwich panel, is a type of structural component that consists of two thin, strong face sheets (or skins) on the outer surfaces, with a lightweight, low-density core material in between.
The face sheets are typically made of high-strength materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, or aluminium, while the core material is usually a lightweight material like foam, honeycomb, or balsa wood.
The concept behind a composite sandwich structure is to combine the strength and stiffness of the face sheets with the lightweight and high bending stiffness of the core material. It provides the panel with increased bending and torsional stiffness, improves its resistance to buckling and crushing, and enhances energy absorption characteristics. This design allows the panel to achieve high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios, making it an efficient and effective structural solution for various applications.
The core material in a composite sandwich structure serves multiple purposes. Additionally, the core material acts as a separator, keeping the face sheets apart and preventing them from buckling or wrinkling under loads.
Composite sandwich structures are widely used in aerospace, automotive, marine, and construction industries, among others, due to their excellent mechanical properties and weight-saving benefits. Some common applications include aircraft components (such as wings, fuselage panels, and interior partitions), boat hulls, wind turbine blades, automotive body panels, and building facades.
The manufacturing process of composite sandwich structures can involve various techniques, including hand lay-up, vacuum bagging, resin infusion, and autoclave curing. The choice of manufacturing method depends on the specific requirements of the application and the materials used.
Overall, composite sandwich structures offer a compelling combination of strength, stiffness, and low weight, making them a versatile solution for lightweight and high-performance structural applications.