While steel and aluminum duke it out over bragging rights and market share in the automotive sector, there is another competitor that poses a potential threat to both metals: composites.

As automakers try to hedge their bets in response to the numerous challenges posed by safety needs, mileage regulations, environmental standards, vehicle performance demands and global competition, advocates of composites say the materials have a role to play due to the advantages they offer in strength, quality and lighter weight.

“With composite materials, we get high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios as well as excellent energy-absorbing capability,” Dan Adams, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah, said in a research report. “Steel is strong and inexpensive, which is why it’s the material of choice today. But composites can be designed to be strong and light to provide better safety and fuel efficiency.”

Read more of the story from American Metal Market . . .