The preconception of carbon fibre composites is often that it is a very expensive, material confined to use in high performance vehicles and aerospace components. While the cost of carbon fibre in infrastructure is often higher than more traditional alternatives on a pound for pound basis, increased understanding, production and application of the material has brought it closer into line with those alternatives. However, when you start to examine the ‘bigger picture’ aspect it becomes clear that the long term gain can far outweigh any initial increased investment.
Lightweight composite structures can often be produced in modular form and transported and assembled at a fraction of the cost and time of many standard alternatives. A supporting structure can therefore go up in hours/days rather than weeks or months. Road, rail and waterway bridges can go up virtually overnight and because of the durability of the material, the maintenance aspect is vastly reduced when compared to the intervals at which traditional materials need servicing.