Cores & Panels

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Lightweight and stiff composite structures are built using sandwich construction, in which a lightweight core material is bonded to facing sheets. A sandwich panel is much like an I-beam, but with the flanges and web extended in all directions. The skins of a sandwich panel correlate with the flanges of the I-Beam, and the sandwich core is similar to the I-beam web. When a sandwich panel is bent, one skin experiences tension, and the other skin experiences compression. This is where the majority of strength is created in a sandwich structure. The core functions to hold the skins together, so the panel doesn’t buckle, snap, deform, or break. The core keeps the skins fixed and relative to each other. The main stress the core experiences is shear stress, as the two skins attempt to slide past each other. The stiffness of the panel is mainly determined by the core material properties and the thickness of the core. Core materials can range from balsa wood, various types of foam to the expensive Nomex honeycomb normally used in aircraft sandwich panels. The face skins are typically glass, carbon or aramid reinforced plastic.