Composites For All’ aims at moving a first step in filling the existing gap of knowledge between EU and Western Balkan (WB) countries in the field of high performing light materials. In particular, the project is focused on the strategic material segment of fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP) and in the CEI target countries of Montenegro (MNE), Bosnia Herzegovina (BIH) and North Macedonia (MKD). Despite their relevance for the rest of the world, in fact, composite materials are almost unknown in these emerging territories: no specific research centre dealing with FRP has been established yet; only few professors have included these special topics in their classes, industrial use of composites is almost limited to low-value applications and materials (e.g. traditional fiberglass for boats). A similar condition also appears in other WB areas, such as Serbia and Albania, where, however, initial steps have been moved to fill this technological distance. An example of a direction to follow can be represented by the closer countries, such as Italy, Croatia and Slovenia, where composite materials, especially FRP, already stand for a subject of constant and growing interest, both at an academic and industrial levels.
A composite material is a combination of (at least) two physically different materials, bound together but remaining separated. Such a combination can offer very dissimilar physical & chemical features and represent an extremely flexible way for material optimization respect to different targets: low cost, easy workability, slow degradation, environmental factors, high productivity, etc.
Actually, the composite materials have always accompanied the Mankind evolution: woody plants, plywood, concrete, papier-mâché, but less than a century ago the first artificial fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) paved the way for the systematic use of composite materials the contemporary society is characterized by. A significant know-how evolution also has emerged in the years, regarding aspects as reinforcements (e.g. carbon, glass, aramid or less common natural fibers), resins (e.g. thermoplastic, thermosetting or the emerging biological resins) and manufacturing processes (e.g. vacuum bag, autoclave, resin transfer mouldings or even advanced manufacturing techniques). After several decades, it is now evident how a lack of knowledge and competence on these fundamental aspects (e.g. materials’ properties, modelling, optimal design, applicability etc.) at the academic and educational levels can represent a limit for the social and economic development too. And the current project offers a first answer proposing an action plan addressed to an intense know-how transfer on advanced composites materials and solutions.