Composite Core Solutions: Glossary of Terms

It can be hard to keep up with changing vocabulary—we’ve compiled a list to help you when you choose lightweight honeycomb cores for your next project.

It can be hard to keep up with changing vocabulary—we’ve compiled a list to help you when you choose lightweight honeycomb cores for your next project.

With new innovation and development also comes new vocabulary. In RhinoKore's industry of manufacturing lightweight building materials, we know how confusing this can be. This is why we've put together a helpful glossary of terms we use for your reference.


Honeycomb Core

Columnar hexagonal-shaped cells are combined to form a sheet and can be made in a variety of thicknesses. Honeycomb core can be made from materials such as paper, composites, wood, metal, and plastic. The hexagon pattern has the benefit of minimal density while maintaining significant stiffness and shear strength.

Fun fact: The honeycomb shape has a surprisingly long history in construction, and was noted in 36 BC by the Roman scholar Marcus Varro to be the most efficient use of space and building materials.

The honeycomb is a shape borrowed from nature that is exceptionally stiff, with high shear strength.

The honeycomb is a shape borrowed from nature that is exceptionally stiff, with high shear strength.


Lightweight Honeycomb Cores

RhinoKore specializes in lightweight honeycomb cores, with or without foam injection. RhinoKore’s lightweight honeycomb cores are manufactured from paper core (P100) or synthetic core (S150) in sheets of 4 ft. by 8 ft., with thicknesses ranging from ¼ in. to 6 in. Custom sizes are available as well. At this stage of the manufacturing process, they do not have facing materials (also called a skins) on them. Various facings can be added to create a sandwich or laminated honeycomb panel. Optionally, our foam-injection reinforces the stiffness, strength, and insulation of the core while adding surface area. The additional surface area of the foam also assists in adherence of facing materials.

RhinoKore staff hold up a custom oversized honeycomb core

RhinoKore staff hold up a custom oversized honeycomb core


Paper Core (Phenolic Treated Kraft Paper)

RhinoKore’s kraft paper is treated with a synthetic polymer known as phenolic resin, which is then cured. When cured, the phenolic resin polymerizes, creating a strong bond throughout the paper. The treated paper is then used as a lightweight honeycomb core.

P100 paper core has specific desirable characteristics as a building material: the cured resin adds significant strength, stiffness, and resists water absorption. These advantages are gained while still being very lightweight.

The paper core is ideal for applications requiring strength and stiffness  

The paper core is ideal for applications requiring strength and stiffness  


Synthetic Core

A synthetic core is usually composed of man-made fibers formed into a fabric. RhinoKore uses polypropylene, a thermoset polymer known for its chemical resistance, elasticity, toughness, fatigue resistance, and insulation. Since they are not an organic material, synthetic cores do not support the growth of mildew or fungi and will not rot. Another advantage is the ability for synthetic core to bend and conform to non-planar surfaces due to its elasticity. Even complete tubes are possible using flexible synthetic honeycomb cores.

Synthetic core is ideal for applications requiring flexibility and energy distribution

Synthetic core is ideal for applications requiring flexibility and energy distribution


Honeycomb Panels

A honeycomb panel, also known as a sandwich panel, is a combination of facing materials with a hollow or foam-injected honeycomb core in the center. A facing material is usually a thin sheet of substrate material, applied to the honeycomb core with an adhesive. Facing materials can be carpet, fiberglass, rubber, linoleum, metal, wood, and even concrete. Honeycomb panels are sometimes referred to as laminated or, “skinned panels”. Depending on the end use of the panel it may be appropriate to apply facing to one side only. RhinoKore can manufacture a range of custom honeycomb panels .

Honeycomb Panels can be created by adding facing materials to one or both sides of the core.  Popular applications include architectural construction, RV/transportation, marine, and sport equipment manufacturing.

Honeycomb Panels can be created by adding facing materials to one or both sides of the core. Popular applications include architectural construction, RV/transportation, marine, and sport equipment manufacturing.


Interested in seeing how you can use RhinoKore’s lightweight honeycomb cores? See our case study on FormaShape and how they used custom-cut cores for architectural construction.