By Bharath Nuggehalli
Engineer Project Associate, Performance Materials

Traditionally, UL performance materials works on a business model which involves testing, and certification of polymeric materials focusing only on electrical and electronic industries (E&E). Since UL is the leader in the area of Safety Certification, UL certified polymeric materials are demanded by safety engineers, designers and by OEM’s for their product applications. Being in the arena of safety certification for more than 120 years, now UL wants to expand its credibility and expert knowledge into other applications such as Wind and automotive, where quality and reliability of materials are in demand. Now the “composite material” becomes a new buzz word in the specialized industries due to its light weight, inherent strength, adoptability and easy handling during installation.

What are Composites?

Composite materials are increasingly used in automotive, renewable energy (wind blades and its assembly) and aerospace and are one of the growing areas in the field of engineering. This growth is mainly due to their high strength-to-weight ratio when compared to metals [1].

Composites- A definitively different material!

Composites differ from traditional materials in that composite parts comprise two distinctly different components — fibers and a matrix material (most often, a polymer resin) — that when combined remain discrete but, function interactively to make a new material, the properties of which cannot be predicted by simply summing the properties of its components. The new material will have significantly different physical or chemical properties when combined.

Merits of Composites
The advantages of the fiber/resin combination are complementary by nature. Thin glass fibers, for example, exhibit relatively high tensile strength, but are susceptible to damage. By contrast, most polymer resins are weak in tensile strength but are extremely tough and malleable. When combined, however, the fiber and resin each counteract the other’s weakness, producing a material far more useful than either of its individual components [2].

Materials used:
The most widely used materials are glass fibers, carbon fibers, Kevlar (poly aramid) fibers and resins (matrix) like epoxy, poly-urethane and many others. The fiber and the resin combination are formulated for a specific application [1].

What UL India is doing with composite materials?
At UL in India, we are venturing into the testing space of composite material which UL has not to date. India as a country already piled up with huge array of applications that include major segments like Wind, automotive and aerospace. UL India has made collaborations with some of the major OEM’s in wind, automotive and aerospace and will be supporting with testing and validation of these materials.

Bibliography:
[1] Hull, D., An introduction to composite materials. 1981: Cambridge University Press.

[2] http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/composites-materials-and-processes