The transportation industry is increasingly reliant on composite materials. To achieve extraordinary advances, the transportation industry requires materials that are lighter, stronger, safer and more affordable than conventional materials. Engineers are pursuing these ideal parameters through increased precision in both design and manufacture to achieve greater uniformity and concomitant predictability in materials performance.
The use of composite materials has become an increasingly important factor in engineering design. They meet stringent requirement such as satisfactory performance even at high temperature, pressure, corrosive environment or high stress. There have been concerted efforts for ushering the usage of composites in various applications by Indian Railways.
The composite material can be used to manufacture products like FRP Gear-Case for Railway Locomotives, FRP Sleepers for Railway Girder Bridges, Jute-Coir Composites, Radiator Cooling Fans for Diesel Locomotives, FRP Toilet Units for Railway Coaches, Composite Main/sliding Doors for Passenger & EMU Coaches for Railways etc.
Weight savings to the tune of 50% for structural and 75% for non-structural applications brings associated benefits of high-speed, reduced power consumption, lower inertia, less track wear and the ability to carry greater pay-loads. Composites also provide greater versatility in train design and optimization of train performance (e.g. lowering the center of gravity to enhance stability).
Composites find major applications in passenger coaches for excellent structural properties and improved aesthetics. Components of coaches are generally made of glass fiber reinforced with polyesters/epoxies, phenolic resins. Indian Railways have already initiated actions for inducting composites especially in the coaches. The requirement of composites for Indian Railways would be substantially high for coaches and locomotives.
FRP Components for Railways: