After making and controlling fire and inventing the wheel, spinning of continuous yarns is probably the most important development of mankind, enabling him to survive outside the tropical climate zones and spread across the surface of the Earth. Flexible fabrics made of locally grown and spun fibres as cotton; flax and jute were a big step forward compared to animal skins. More and more natural resources were used, soon resulting in the first composites; straw reinforced walls, and bows (Figure M1.1.1 (a)) and chariots made of glued layers of wood, bone and horn. More durable materials as wood and metal soon replaced these antique composites.
Originating from early agricultural societies and being almost forgotten after centuries, a true revival started of using lightweight composite structures for many technical solutions during the second half of the 20th century. After being solely used for their electromagnetic properties (insulators and radar-domes), using composites to improve the structural performance of spacecraft and military aircraft became popular in the last two decades of the previous century. First at any costs, with development of improved materials with increasing costs, nowadays cost reduction during manufacturing and operation are the main technology drivers. Latest development is the use of composites to protect man against fire and impact (Figure M1.1.1 (b)) and a tendency to a more environmental friendly design, leading to the reintroduction of natural fibres in the composite technology,