Clemson University researcher Srikanth Pilla believes that cost is the biggest barrier to using more composite materials in automotive manufacturing, but those materials could become more attractive if steel and aluminum prices rise in the wake of new tariffs.
Composite materials are widely used in the making of airplanes and could have big advantages over metals in the making of cars. The materials can be made up to 10 times stronger and a fifth the weight of steel.
The trouble is that composite materials cost more than steel and aluminum.
When asked what increased cost for steel and aluminum could mean for the composites industry, Pilla said "more industries might start looking at composites for multiple different applications, multiple different components. That might bring in more work for the researchers, especially with the composites center we have coming up. It might actually bring in more projects."