ME 1014 Composite Materials

Prof.V.Alfred Franklin.,
St.Xavier¶s Catholic College of Engineering Nagercoil, India.

Composite Material ?
Two inherently different materials that when combined together produce a material with properties that exceed the constituent materials. Any combination of two or more different materials at the macroscopic level.. level.. The constituents retain their identities, i.e.., they do not dissolve or merge into each other, although they act in concert. Composites: Artificially produced multiphase materials.

Composite Material ? 

Composites: A judicious combination of two or more materials that produces a synergistic effect. A material system composed of two or more physically distinct phases whose combination produces aggregate properties that are different from those of its constituents.

Phases of Composites
Matrix Phase: continuous phase, surrounds other phase (e.g.: metal (Cu, Al, Ti, Ni ); , ceramic (SiC ), or polymer (Thermosets, thermoplastics, Elastomers) Reinforcement Phase: dispersed phase, discontinuous phase (e.g.: Fibers, Particles, or Flakes) Interface between matrix and reinforcement
Interfacial properties - the interface may be regarded as a third phase.

Examples: Straw in mud Wood (cellulose fibers in hemicellulose and lignin) Bones (soft protein collagen and hard apatite minerals) Pearlite (ferrite and cementite)

Micro mechanics/ Macro mechanics?

Major Constituents 
Fiber Matrix Fillers Coupling agents Colorants

Principle Load carrying member Main constituent and they occupy largest volume fraction Diameter of a single fiber is about 10 microns They may be continuous or discontinuous in length.


E-Glass S-Glass C-Glass R-Glass D-Glass A-Glass

E stands for electrical S stands for high silica content 

High thermal expansion coefficient High fatigue strength Used in Chemical applications Storage tanks Structural applications Low dielectric constants To improve surface appearance For ornamental works 

C stands for Corrosion 


R stands for Rigid 

D stands for Dielectric 

A Stands for appearance 

E-CR Glass E-CR stands for Electrical and corrosion resistance AR Glass AR stands for Alkali resistance

‡ Critical fiber length for effective stiffening & strengthening:

fiber strength in tension

fiber diameter shear strength of fiber-matrix interface

Wf d fiber length " 15 Xc

Efficiency : fiber length

Shorter, thicker fiber:

Longer, thinner fiber:


r l


W 15 f Xc


r l


" 5 f Xc W(x)


Poorer fiber efficiency

Better fiber efficiency

Why are Fibers of a Thin Diameter?
1. Thinner fiber has higher ultimate strength because less chance for inherent flaws. Similar phenomenon in metals and alloys (Strength of a thin wire can be higher than its bulk material). 2. For the same volume of fibers, thinner fibers has larger surface area thus has stronger bond with matrix. (The total surface area of fibers is inversely proportional to the diameter of fibers) 3. Thinner fiber has larger flexibility ( 1/(EI)) and therefore is able to be bent without breaking (Woven fabric performs can be made before impregnated with polymer matrix).

Composite Strength: Longitudinal Loading
Continuous fibers - Estimate fiber-reinforced composite fiberstrength for long continuous fibers in a matrix 

Longitudinal deformation

Wc = WmVm + WfVf
volume fraction


Ic = Im = If


Ec = Em Vm + EfVf

longitudinal (extensional) modulus f = fiber m = matrix C-composite
Remembering: E = W/I and note, this model corresponds to the ³upper bound´ for particulate composites

Ff E fVf ! Fm E mVm

Matrix / Resins
The resin or polymer is the glue that holds the composite together

-The primary functions of the resin are to transfer stress between the reinforcing fibers.
Examples: Polyester, Epoxy, Vinyl Ester, Polyurethane

Role of Matrices in Composites
Transfer stresses between the fibers. Provide a barrier against an adverse environment. Protect the surface of the fibers from mechanical abrasion. Determine inter-laminar shear strength. Determine damage tolerance of composites. Determine in-plane shear strength. Determine the processibility of composites. Determine heat resistance of composites. 



Role of Matrix
The primary roles of the matrix alloy then are to provide efficient transfer of load to the fibers and to blunt cracks in the event that fiber failure occurs and so the matrix alloy for continuously reinforced composites may be chosen more for toughness than for strength. 

On this basis, lower strength, more ductile, and tougher matrix alloys may be utilized in continuously reinforced composites. For discontinuously reinforced composites, the matrix may govern composite strength. -Then, the choice of matrix will be influenced by consideration of the required composite strength and higher strength matrix alloys may be required. 

Functions of Matrix 

Holds the fibres together. Protects the fibres from environment. Distributes the loads evenly between fibres so that all fibres are subjected to the same amount of strain. Enhances transverse properties of a laminate. Improves impact and fracture resistance of a component. Helps to avoid propagation of crack growth through the fibres by providing alternate failure path along the interface between the fibres and the matrix. Carry inter-laminar shear.  


Desired Properties of a Matrix 

Reduced moisture absorption. Low shrinkage. Low coefficient of thermal expansion. Good flow characteristics so that it penetrates the fibre bundles completely and eliminates voids during the compacting/curing process. Must be elastic to transfer load to fibres.    

Desired Properties of a Matrix 

Reasonable strength, modulus and elongation (elongationshould be greater than fibre). Strength at elevated temperature (depending on application). Low temperature capability (depending on application). Excellent chemical resistance (depending on application). Should be easily processable into the final composite shape. Dimensional stability (maintains its shape).     


Control Composites Cost Improved Mechanical Properties Improved Chemical Properties Reduced Creep & Shrinkage Low Tensile Strength Fire Retardant & Chemical Resistant


Calcium Carbonate Kaolin Alumina Trihydrate Mica Feldspar Wollastonite Silica, Talc, Glass


Improved Material Properties Aesthetics Enhanced Workability Improved Performance


Catalysts Promoters Inhibitors Coloring Dyes Releasing Agents Antistatic Agents Foaming Agents

Composites Offer 

Strength to weight ratio High Stiffness to weight ratio High Modulus to weight ratio Light Weight Directional strength Corrosion resistance Weather resistance Dimensional stability -low thermal conductivity -low coefficient of thermal expansion Radar transparency Non-magnetic NonHigh impact strength High dielectric strength (insulator) Low maintenance Long term durability Part consolidation Small to large part geometry possible Tailored surface finish Design Flexibility

Property comparison

Tensile modulus (E) ( GN / m 2 ) 7 .4 90.0 85.0 1 0 10 70

Tensile strength( W u ) ( GN m )

Density (V ) ( g cm 3 )

Specific modulus (E/V) 8.5 05.0 146.0 87 6.9 5.9

Specific strength (W u / V ) 1. 8 1.1 1.1 1.87 0.04 ± 0. 7 0.05 ± 0.

E-Glass Graphite Boron Kevlar ± 49 Steel Aluminum alloys

.54 1.90 .6 1.50 7.8 .7

.1 .8 .8 0. 4 ± .1 0.14 ± 0.6

Composite strength depends on the following factors:  


Inherent fiber strength, Fiber length, Number of flaws Fiber shape The bonding of the fiber (equally stress distribution) Voids Moisture (coupling agents)

Classification of Composite Materials

Traditional composites composite materials that occur in nature or have been produced by civilizations for many years  Examples: wood (cellulose fibers in lignin matrix), Examples: concrete, asphalt Synthetic composites - modern material systems normally associated with the manufacturing industries, in which the components are first produced separately and then combined in a controlled way to achieve the desired structure, properties, and part geometry


Classification of Synthetic Composites: Based on Matrix
Matrix Reinforcement Metal
Powder metallurgy parts ± combining immiscible metals Cermets, TiC, TiCN Cemented carbides ± used in tools Fiber-reinforced metals Cermets (ceramic-metal composite)




Brake pads


SiC reinforced Al2O3 Tool materials


Polymer Elemental (Carbon, Boron, etc.)
Fiber reinforced metals Auto parts aerospace

Kevlar fibers in an epoxy matrix Rubber with carbon (tires) Boron, Carbon reinforced plastics

Metal Matrix Composites

Ceramic Matrix Comp¶s.

Polymer Matrix Comp¶s

Classification of Synthetic Composites : Based on reinforcements There are five basic types of composite materials: Fiber, Fiber, particle, flake, particle, flake, laminar or layered and filled composites.

1. Fiber Composites
In fiber composites, the fibers reinforce along the line of their length. Reinforcement may be mainly 1-D, 2-D or 3-D. Figure shows the three basic types of fiber orientation. 

1-D gives maximum strength in one direction. 2-D gives strength in two directions. Isotropic gives strength equally in all directions.  

2. Particle Composites
Particles usually reinforce a composite equally in all directions (called isotropic). Plastics, cermets and metals are examples of isotropic) Plastics, particles. particles.  Particles used to strengthen a matrix do not do so in the same way as fibers. For one thing, particles are not directional like fibers. Spread at random through out a matrix, particles tend to reinforce in all directions equally. Cermets (1) Oxide Based cermets (e.g. Combination of Al2O3 with Cr) (2) Carbide Based Cermets (e.g. Tungsten carbide, titanium carbide) Metal plastic particle composites (e.g. Aluminum, iron & steel, copper particles) Metal in metal Particle Composites and Dispersion Hardened Alloys (e.g. Ceramic oxide particles) 

3. Flake Composites 

Flakes, Flakes, because of their shape, usually reinforce in 2-D. Two common flake materials are glass and mica. (Also mica. aluminum is used as metal flakes)

Flake Composites 

A flake composite consists of thin, flat flakes matrix. held together by a binder or placed in a matrix. Almost all flake composite matrixes are plastic resins. resins. The most important flake materials are: are: Aluminum Mica Glass

1. 2. 3.

Flake Composites

Basically, flakes will provide:  Uniform mechanical properties in the plane of the flakes  Higher strength  Higher flexural modulus  Higher dielectric strength and heat resistance  Better resistance to penetration by liquids and vapor  Lower cost

4. Laminar Composites 

Laminar Composites are composed of layers of materials held together by matrix.

Laminar composites involve two or more layers of the same or different materials. The layers materials. can be arranged in different directions to give strength where needed. Speedboat hulls needed. are among the very many products of this kind.

Laminar Composites

We can divide laminar composites into three basic types:  Unreinforced layer composites (1) All Metal (a) Plated and coated metals (electrogalvanized steel steel plated with zinc) (b) Clad metals (aluminum clad, copper clad) (c) Multilayer metal laminates (tungsten, beryllium) (2) Metal Nonmetal (metal with plastic, rubber, etc.) (3) Nonmetal (glass plastic laminates, etc.) 

Reinforced layer composites (laminae and laminates) Combined composites (reinforced plastic laminates well bonded with steel, aluminum, copper, rubber, gold, etc.) 

Laminar Composites 

Like all composites laminar composites aim at combining constituents to produce properties that neither constituent alone would have. have. In laminar composites (Un reinforced) outer metal is not called a matrix but a face. face. The inner metal, even if stronger, is not called a reinforcement. It is called a reinforcement. base. base. 

Laminar Composites 

A lamina (laminae) is any arrangement of unidirectional or woven fibers in a matrix. matrix. Usually this arrangement is flat, although it may be curved, as in a shell. shell. A laminate is a stack of lamina arranged with their main reinforcement in different directions. directions. 

Laminate Sequence

5. Filled Composites 

There are two types of filled composites. In composites. one, one, filler materials are added to a normal composite result in strengthening the composite and reducing weight. The second weight. type of filled composite consists of a skeletal 3-D matrix holding a second material. The material. most widely used composites of this kind are sandwich structures and honeycombs. honeycombs.

Sandwich Structure

Foam Core

Consists of a relatively thick core of low density foam bonded on both faces to thin sheets of a different material

Figure 9.7 - Laminar composite structures: (b) sandwich structure using foam core

Sandwich Structure Honeycomb Core  An alternative to foam core  Either foam or honeycomb achieves high strength-to-weight and strength-tostiffness-tostiffness-to-weight ratios

Figure 9.7 - Laminar composite structures: (c) sandwich structure using honeycomb core

6.Combined 6.Combined Composites 

It is possible to combine several different materials into a single composite. It is also possible to composite. combine several different composites into a single product. product. A good example is a modern ski. ski. (combination of wood as natural fiber, and layers as laminar composites)

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