Structural core materials are incorporated into composite materials, which are used on a large scale in construction, automotive, civil infrastructure, aircraft, military, and corrosion-resistant equipment industries. A composite material is made by combining two or more materials with different properties. Composites are classified into three types: particle-reinforced composites, fiber-reinforced composites, and structural composites. Structural composites are further classified into two types: laminates and sandwich panels. A sandwich panel is a kind of layered composite with faces and core.
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A core is a layer of less dense yet strong material filled between two faces in a structural composite. The function of the core is to maintain the thin skins or faces in their relative positions by preventing them from folding inward or outward. Stiffness of the structural composite depends on thickness of the core used. Materials that can be incorporated into the structural core are paper, carbon, and aluminum. The following types of structural core are available in the market: honeycomb, foam, and balsa. Honeycomb is the highly common type, followed by foam. Honeycomb is available in forms such as thermoplastic honeycomb, nomex honeycomb, and aluminum honeycomb. Types of foams include PVC foam, polystyrene foam, polyurethane foam, and polymethyl metacrylamide foam.
Qualities preferred in an ideal structural core material include lightness in weight, stiffness, thermal insulation/transfer, dampening of noise or vibration, and strength. The type of structural core material is determined on the basis of nature of application. It is then incorporated into the structural composite.
Structural core materials are used in the automobile industry for the manufacture of air bags in cars. They are also employed in safety gears such as bulletproof jackets. Furthermore, structural core materials are used in communication antennae, and electronic circuit boards. Components of missiles, rockets, and aircraft also contain structural core materials.
Various industries have become aware of benefits of structural core materials over solid laminates. Demand for structural core materials is expected to increase at a steady pace in the near future.
A large number of aerospace companies in North America employ structural core materials. Some of the leading countries in Asia Pacific manufacture automobiles and automobile spare parts. Therefore, the market for structural core materials in the region is estimated to expand at a consistent pace during the forecast period. The marine industry in China well-established. This is projected to be a major contributor to the growth of the market for structural core materials in Asia Pacific. Europe is likely to witness steady growth of the structural core materials market in the near future, due to the extensive presence of major end-user industries such as automotive, aerospace, and defense equipment in the region. Middle East & Africa has wide presence of automotive and electronics industries. This is expected to boost the structural core materials market in the region. The market in Latin America is anticipated to expand at a sluggish pace vis-à-vis that in other regions.
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key players operating in the structural core materials market are 3A Composites, Airex AG, Composites One, DIAB Group, Euro-Composites, Gurit, Hexcel Corporation, Matrix Composite Materials Company Ltd., and Saertex GmbH & Co. KG.