Materials and Components: Composites

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Composites has always been an area of materials that I have a great interest in. It fascinates me how certain materials can be combined together to make a combination of materials or a composites that is stronger and lighter than other materials traditionally employed.

For example is the use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic in automotive engineering which is used for its high torsional strength compared to steel or aluminium.

Official definition of ‘Composites’

A composite material can be defined as a combination of a matrix and a reinforcement, which when combined gives properties superior to the properties of the individual components. In the case of a composite, the reinforcement is the fibres and is used to fortify the matrix in terms of strength and stiffness.

https://compositesuk.co.uk/composite-materials

WHAT ARE COMPOSITE MATERIALS ?

Composite materials, also called Composites. Composed of two or more materials, that have different properties. The materials are bonded together and their properties are combined.

Composite materials combine the physical properties of the individual materials they are made up of, forming a superiormaterial.

KEVLAR  –  REINFORCED CONCRETE
PLYWOOD  –  GLASS REINFORCED FIBRE
CARBON FIBRE

COMPOSITE MATERIALS – 
STEEL REINFORCED CONCRETE

Concrete is weak when put under tension. If reinforced with steel rods, it is can withstand tensile forces.

Reinforced concrete has long steel rods passing through its length, adding great strength to the final composite material. Able to resist tensile forces.

Used for bridge building, skyscrapers and general large scale construction.

COMPOSITE MATERIALS
GLASS REINFORCED PLASTIC(GRP)

Composed of strands of glass and woven to form a flexible fabric. Placed in a mould and polyester resin is added, followed by a catalyst (to speed up the reaction). Allowed to dry/cure.
The resulting material is strong and light. Can be sanded and painted.

Used for canoes, car bodies, small swimming pools, water tanks, surfboards, small boat hulls.

COMPOSITE MATERIALS
CARBON FIBRE REINFORCED POLYMER (CFRP)

Carbon fibre is woven into a textile material. Epoxy resin is added and allowed to cure.

The resulting material is very strong and light. An improvement on glass fibre reinforced plastic, although much more expensive.

Uses; Aerospace, expensive sports cars, competition bicycles and motorbikes.

COMPOSITE MATERIALS – KEVLAR

Kevlar® is a liquid, converted into a fibre (called aramid fibres) and woven into a textile material. Extremely strong, lightweight, corrosion and heat resistant.

Has a high tensile strength to weight ratio, far exceeding steel, carbon fibre and specialist alloys.

Uses when combined with other materials: bullet proof jackets, armour for military vehicles and planes. Formula 1 fuel tanks.

COMPOSITE MATERIALS – CONCRETE

Used in construction, roads, brick laying, building and many more.
Concrete is composed of a number of materials, that combine to form this versatile building material. Most concrete is made up of Portland Cement, aggregates (gravel, crushed stones) and sand. Water is added to the mix.

 

 

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