Seen at SAMPE 2013

Seen at SAMPE 2013

SAMPE – the Society for the Advancement of Materials and Processing – held its convention in Long Beach, CA last week, and Composites and Architecture went to check out the trade show.  While the majority of the show was oriented towards the aerospace industry, we saw things of definite architectural interest as well, and we are reporting this week and next week.

On the aesthetic front: Carbon fiber fabric is already a pretty intriguing look.  Imagine what would happen if someone tried to apply fabric design to it.

Sister companies Fabric Development Inc. of Quakertown, PA and Textile Products, Inc of Anaheim, CA were showing a wide range of decorative weaves featuring mixed materials – carbon fiber, polyester, Kevlar – selected for their color.  One of the fabrics – a mix of carbon and Kevlar – even exhibited a deep three-dimensional illusion when seen in person.

Composite Fabrics of America, Taylorsville, NC goes a step further, weaving pure carbon fiber into complex decorative patterns.  They can even weave a logo into the fabric.

These fabrics, bonded by clear resin, could provide the finish for architectural surfaces.  Interior wall panels spring to mind.  A conference table made of FRP with a patterned carbon fiber fabric finish – and perhaps with a layer of Aramid fabric underneath – could be not only beautiful but bullet-proof.

Since most architectural FRP elements are made of multiple layers of fabric, the decorative fabric could be confined to the exterior layer, and need not significantly affect either the engineering or the cost of the piece.

images by Steven H. Miller

Decorative carbon fiber by Composite Fabrics of America

Mixed-fiber decorative fabrics by Fabric Development Inc and Textile Products, Inc.