Basics of Composite Material – Composite materials have amazing properties. The features come from the advance carbon fiber, fiberglass, and polymer resins these composites use. Understand the fundamentals of composites is important for both the novice and the seasoned engineer alike.

  • NASA Composite Materials (video 23:31) – Find out how NASA and industry are using composite materials to change our world. Segments include: Composite spacecraft, Airplanes and the X Prize winner.
  • Building blocks of the future – New lightweight, X-shaped blocks could be used to make cars, planes, buildings — and even spacecraft. The “block” resembles the letter X (except that it has a hole in the middle and loops at the end of each arm). These pieces are small and lightweight yet strong. And they’re inexpensive. One day they may be assembled into bikes, bridges, planes or buildings. When connected the blocks to make triangular pyramids, to create a cube about 20 centimeters (8 inches) across. The cube weighed only as much as an egg, but supported more than about 295 kilograms (650 pounds) before crumpling. When structures make with the X-blocks broke, they didn’t completely fall apart. Instead, the scientists could make repairs by exchanging new blocks for the broken ones.

Do it
Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • watch NASA Composite Material Experiment (video 6:49) – NASA Connect Segment involving students in an activity that investigates the strenth and deflection of composite material with and without reinforcement. It reviews vocabulary including polymer, fiber, stress cracks, and maximum deflection. You can learn along with the students.