“Can the characteristics of two materials work together to produce a better product?”

Composite materials: Made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties. Combining these two materials can create better strength, durability, lower weight and lower cost.

Same material, different construction

Corrugated cardboard, while made entirely from paper material, is composed of two different kinds of paper: the pleated core and the outside layers. These materials together make a more rigid but still lightweight structure.

Honeycomb structures are lightweight and extremely strong in compression and shear. Rather than using heavy solid materials, 747s floors are composed of aluminum honeycomb structures – in fact each 747 contains about an acre of honeycomb material.

Different materials

Glass-reinforced plastic (also called fiberglass) uses the high tensile strength of glass fiber to create strong panels.

Concrete is an aggregate of cement which acts as a binder, and sand or gravel. Often reinforcing steel bars will be added to give the concrete, which is very strong in compression, additional tensile strength.

Many lubricants and oils are blended with viscosity improving additives that allow for varying conditions, e.g. 5W30 motor oil which is remains fluid when cold but still provides protective lubrication when at operating temperatures.

More examples

As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.

Your turn

What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?

Photo by Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand (747s, Auckland, 22 November 2006) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons