As a consultant specialising in advanced composite materials I was very surprised to read about the 'very high cost' of aramid systems in your recent 'Keeping damage under wraps' article. While the prime cost of all composite systems reviewed is unquestionably higher than conventional materials, in practice we have found the cost of aramid systems compares favourably with other fibre materials offering comparable benefits.
The use of plastic composites in construction requires a different approach on the part of designers who must appreciate that the potentially considerable cost savings accrue from a number of areas, in particular its speed of application. The actual material costs themselves will constitute a relatively small part of the overall cost equation.
At the end of the day, it is likely the optimum solution for many construction applications will come from 'hybrid' fabrics or plys combining two or more reinforcement materials, for example carbon and aramid or glass and aramid. These will provide synergetic benefits and the best cost benefit ratio.
Ken Raybould, Martech, 120-122 High Street, Southampton SO14 2AA.