Fiber reinforced polymeric composites have been used for a variety of structural applications because of their high specific strength and modulus compared to metals. Initially developed for the aerospace industry, high-performance or ‘advanced’ composites are now found in applications from automotive parts to circuit boards, and from building materials to specialty sporting goods. Most composites currently available on the market are designed with long-term durability in mind and are made using nondegradable polymeric resins, such as epoxies and polyurethane, and high-strength fibers, such as graphite, aramids, and glass. Many of these polymers and fibers are derived from petroleum, a nonreplenishable commodity. The push now is to use composites in place of common plastics in consumer products to improve performance and reduce weight and cost.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(03)00427-9