Flame Barrier Composites: A Hot Trend in Advanced Composites

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The aerospace and defense industries continue to lead the way in developing new composite materials. Thanks to a combination of high demand for travel and innovation in both manufacturing and technology systems, aerospace and defense companies have filed more than 237,000 patents just in the last three years alone. Some of those patents have been for flame barrier composites.

Flame barrier composites are a hot trend throughout the advanced composites industry. Aerospace composite manufacturing companies are coming up with new and innovative ways to protect both civilian and military aircraft against fire and heat. And as they do, they are pushing the field of composites further than ever before.

What They Are Designed to Do

As the name suggests, flame barrier composites are designed to prevent the spread of fire. They also protect against excessive heat. Generally speaking, they are multi-layered composites with materials chosen specifically for their properties. Each layer adds properties to the overall material, properties that resist fire and heat more effectively when combined.

Flame barrier composites are designed around three principles:

  • Intumescence – Intumescent materials protect by creating a thick, insulating barrier that protects underlying materials from heat and flame. This is achieved through expansion. When intumescent materials get hot, they expand.
  • Ablation – Ablative materials protect against fire and heat by decomposing and absorbing heat. As they do, they help cool the material underneath, which slows the spread of fire.
  • Reflection – Reflective materials protect by reflecting heat away from the material underneath. This slows a fire’s spread by preventing the underlying material from reaching ignition temperature.

Flame barrier composites are designed and constructed based on application. Obviously, different applications require different types of protection. Ultimately, the occupants of a vehicle or structure are counting on the materials to keep them safe in the event of fire.

Common Flame Barrier Applications

The aerospace and defense industries are leading the way in developing flame barrier composites for both civilian and military applications. At the top of the list is protection for aircraft interiors. Flame barrier composites protect passengers, crew, and pilots in flight. Other applications include:

  • Commercial Automotive – Automotive manufacturers are including more flame barrier composites in passenger cars and light trucks. The need for such composites only grows as EVs become more popular. Consumers need the protection the composites offer.
  • Motorsports – As an offshoot of automotive manufacturing, motorsports fabricators also rely heavily on flame barrier composites to protect drivers. All sorts of cars, from stock cars to F1, can be outfitted with flame barrier composites.
  • Construction – In the construction trades, flame barrier composites can make all sorts of buildings safer. The composites can be embedded in walls, ceilings, and floors to both suppress fire and reduce the speed at which it spreads.
  • Electronics – On a smaller scale, flame barrier composites can even be used to protect sensitive electronic equipment. As electronics become more sophisticated and expensive, the protection is very much appreciated.

If there is a downside to flame barrier composites, it is expense. All advanced composites are expensive to produce and install. But when you step back and consider their effectiveness in saving lives and minimizing property damage, the investment is well worth it.

Thanks to innovators in aerospace and defense, composites are being developed at a rapid rate. Flame barrier composites are just one example. As one of the hottest trends in composites right now, they are setting the bar for industry design and innovation. They represent something the aerospace composite manufacturing companies should be proud of. In addition to being lightweight and strong, they are lifesaving materials. Contact Aerodine Composites today!

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