Fibre-reinforced polymer composites (FRPs) are increasingly being used for consumer goods, in particular in the sport and leisure industries.
The leisure industry is one of the biggest consumers of composites, both carbon and glass. Improvements in performance, through light-weight and stiffness characteristics have led to a growing consumer-led market. Composite golf clubs, archery bows, fishing rods, racquets and skis are now established products.
Recent developments include bicycles and many professional cyclists use carbon rims, which are lightweight, exceptionally stiff and streamlined.
General consumer goods that are examples of composite applications include:
- BBQ’s – heat-resistant composite legs are durable and provide built-in storage for shelves, valve, and grilling tools.
- Stacking chair – the Talon Chair is the world’s first ‘mass produced’ carbon-fibre chair. It is light-weight (2.4kg), stackable, extremely strong and durable, weather proof, comfortable and warm to the touch. The principal function is a multi-purpose stacking chair designed for use in the many markets: contract furniture, institutional & conference furniture, hospitality, café/dining and commercial or domestic occasional/outdoor furniture.
- Wallets and purses
No doubt other applications will develop as technology and fashion allow. Due to the high-volumes involved, these developments are important because they will lead to reductions in material prices and hence affect the application of composites in other industries.