20 Years of Lightweight  Composite High Strength Solutions

  • Long recognized by science as the strongest of engineering structures,Isogrids have dominated the challenges of strength-to-weight ratios.
  • For more than 20 years, Isogrid Composites has focused on Advanced Grid Stiffened (AGS) machining and materials methods related to Isogrid structural development.
  • We were first to develop a viable robotic solution for automated carbon fiber composite layup.
  • We’ve exceeded two decades dedicated to evolving from  technology research level (TRL1) to demonstrated R&D technology manufacturing level of (TRL 6).


  • In the late nineties, working with Sikorsky Aircraft, NASA and Hexcel Technology, Isogrid Composites pioneered the first patented automated multi-layup head manufacturing system for carbon fiber composites.
  • Earliest Isogrids in the late 1950s were challenging aluminum block milling operations–time consuming, tedious machining operations yielding high-cost, high wastage structures suited to aerospace.
  • Carbon fiber composite technology raised the bar in manufacturing challenges. Although recognized for its superior strength-to-weight ratio, carbon fiber tape layup was solely a lengthy and cumbersome manual process.
  • Pioneering with the Canadian National Research Council (CNRC),  Isogrid Composites developed an automated manufacturing solution for Isogrids. The robotic system was designed to address the burgeoning transportation demands for superior light-weight, high-strength components known “advanced grid-stiffened structures”. (AGS).

Why Isogrid Works Better than Honeycomb solutions…

Isogrids survive all other thin composite structures because their lattice like triangular pattern distributes loads evenly throughout the panel. Failure in one area of a panel, such as a puncture and cracking, transfers loads to surrounding  structural areas. Thus, an Isogrid panel can comprise a thin skin layer backed by integral composite ribbing that creates an equilateral load distribution. From an engineering standpoint, identical strength values are distributed in all directions, hence the structure is termed “isotropic”–and thus termed “Isogrid”. Quite simply, it’s lighter, stronger and more robust than any alternatives.

Moreover, honeycomb sandwich components absorb moisture in wet environments resulting in corrosion of the cores leading to buckling and failure of the face sheets and structural failure.

So, if Isogrids are lighter and stronger, why aren’t they used everywhere?

Manufacturing challenges have relegated Isogrid solutions to only the highest callings–aerospace, satellite platforms and virtually any application where super high strength and light weight is at maximum requirement levels. With the advent of battery-powered transportation and extraordinary demand for lightweighting, robust materials solutions across all industry, Isogrids are emerging from the science labs and into all aspects of down-to-earth industry.


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What Can Isogrids Do for Your Application?

Trucking: Perfect Lightweighting Storm

Lightweighting the semi-tractor fleet is not inevitable. It’s NOW. Mandated fuel efficiency is hauling tractor-trailer rigs into weight reduction necessity as never before. The immediate solution is the trend toward aluminum. The ultimate solution is CFRP (Carbon fiber reinforced plastics and thermosets). The trend is amplified by “next-gen” fleets of electric trucks. And the movement is driven faster and harder by the advent of all-electric power trains and the rush toward self-driving big rigs. Lightweighting spells economy and running on battery power demands serious weight shedding. Isogrid panels afford a material solution to replacing metal exterior sidewalls, roofing and trailer gates, with the capability of reducing supporting framing in both trailers and tractor vehicles.


Shipping Lighter, Fueling Lower

Isogrid Composites early configurations targeted freight pallets and ULDs (Unit Load Devices). Working with FedEx and Alcan Aluminum, a dedicated R&D program focused on lightweighting the massive fleet of cargo containers and devices. Early development evolved into a new generation of cargo solutions.


Automotive: Charging Toward Batteries

Automotive markets driven to light-weighting to embrace fuel mandates are now compelled to “go the distance” with battery power. The market is  exploding with carbon fiber and thermoset technologies. Auto light-weighting made possible by Isogrid design is targeted to reduce vehicle weight by half and improve traditional fuel savings by 35%  not only for mandated fuel economies, but increasingly for the rising demand for battery-powered vehicles. Isogrid technologies afford the ever challenging strength-to-weight ratios for everyday “electric driving”.


Isogrid IS Rocket Science

No one soars into space without Isogrids. It’s been that way since the first satellites rocketed into space. Isogrid isn’t just strong and light, the mass of triangular lattice fins help dissipate the heat of space exposure, so it’s the foremost space platform. Now, more than ever, Isogrid light-weighting characteristics of superior strength–to-weight ratios is coming closer to earth. New tooling and robotics advances, combined with aggressive new CF and thermoset materials are enabling Isogrid engineering in virtually every vehicle that soars, flies, drives or floats.


Drones & UAVs: Where Isogrids Excel

Isogrid designs find no vehicle with greater ROI than drones and UAVS where superior strength-to-weight is engineered into every component and flying surface. These “flying robots”, minuscule compared to traditional aircraft, demand carbon fiber composites such as CFRPs (carbon fiber reinforced polymers) in every  component. Virtually every flight surface benefits from the structural integrity inherent in Isogrid’s superior strength-to-weight ratio in design and engineering. And new manufacturing technologies such as 3-D printing are especially relevant to this explosive new market.


Lighter Weight Power Supply

Taller towers, longer blades, more efficient installation–all depend on lighter weight solutions. Isogrid composite technologies afford strength-to-weight ratios untested in the expanding alternative energy industry. Moreover, employment of composites in sea environments requires high-strength solutions resistant to corrosion. Isogrid composites structures afford an engineering combination that other materials simply can’t match. If you design for alternative energy, Isogid composite solutions affords strength and environment resistant that other materials can only hope for.


Marine Applications: Wet Doesn’t Matter

Science shows  that carbon composites survive salt water environments better than all other light-weighting materials. But making structures and components strong enough, durable enough, remains a challenge. Traditional composite materials such as sandwich foam core (and other materials) eventually erode and fail. Isogrid structures survive marine environments while maintaining structural integrity because the lattice fins as well as the surface sheets are all of the same high-strength composite materials that don’t peel, crack and sacrifice structural integrity due to moisture absorption.

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