Composite materials are materials consisting of two or more components, in which there are always a matrix and a reinforcement. The combination of the different materials enables the technical properties of the individual components to be transformed, improving them and adapting them to a specific application.
Composites are being used increasingly because of the close connection between mechanical properties and density. This enables performance to be obtained that is similar to that of metal or sometimes even greater, with significant weight loss.
These materials finding applications in the medical sector because of their light-weight, high-stiffness characteristics and bio-compatibility. External components such as artificial limbs use the high specific properties, fatigue resistance and flexibility of manufacture of composites to advantage. The chemical inertness of carbon fibre has led to a number of surgical applications where the material is used in conjunction or instead of metallic or polymeric materials.
The very new challenge in this project is to design a walking frame made up of a polymeric composite material strengthened with carbon fibre, which allows to optimize lightness, manoeuvrability and mechanical strength with respect to the common frames usually made of aluminium. This kind of material also allows to appropriately rank the fibres and to locally add layers of material during the lamination process in order to improve mechanical performances in critical stress points and/or directions.