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Composites (PDF download)


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									       The Various Applications of Composites
Composite materials are usually composed of at least two different elements whose properties
are used to complement each other to produce a better material. The main aim is usually to
produce materials with added strength and lower weight. The man-made composites come in
three basic types; polymer matrix composites (PMCs), metal matrix composites (MMCs), and
ceramic matrix composites (CMCs). The PMCs are also known as fiber reinforced polymers/
plastics (FRPs). These are made from a polymer-based matrix, which is then reinforced using
materials like carbon, glass and aramid.

The MMCs use a metal, commonly aluminum, as the matrix. It is then reinforced with fibers like
silicon carbide. For very high temperature environments, the CMCs are used. These usually
have a ceramic as the matrix and its reinforcement comes from short fibers in the form of boron
nitride and silicon carbide.

Composites require resin systems that are tough, resistant to environmental degradation and
have good mechanical and adhesive properties. The resin used should be able to deform to the
same extent as the fiber that is used.

High adhesion between the resin and the fibers is highly necessary for loads to be transferred
evenly through the material and to prevent cracking or unbinding under stress. Resin that is able
to deform extensively without failing will produce composite materials that are tough and crack
resistant. Due to the areas and conditions where the composite materials will be used, the resin
system should be able to withstand constant stress cycling, water, environmental conditions and
other aggressive elements that it will be exposed to when the composite material is in use.

The various types of composites have different applications. One common application of
composite technology is composite timber cladding. In this case, the material produced
combines the qualities of wood, high-density polythene and stabilizers like UV inhibitors and
mold resistance. This means that the product is ideal for outdoor use since it is stronger than
normal wood, highly durable and resistant to breaking, decay and mold.

Composites are also being used in dental applications to give people teeth replacements that
have a natural look and are long lasting. The composites are placed in the patient’s mouth while
still malleable and shaped nicely to fit in with their original dental configuration so that they have
a natural fit. There are many other situations in which composites are used due to their excellent
properties of strength and lightweight.

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