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A multipurpose product made by using two or more existing materials which

exhibits properties of its constituents as well as shows some unique
properties of its own

Composites are engineering materials, comprising of metals, ceramics,
glasses and polymers

In composites, materials are combined in such a way as to enable us to make
better use of their virtues while minimizing to some extent the effects of their


The optimum combination of materials can release a designer from the
constraints associated with the selection and manufacture of conventional
Use of tougher and lighter materials, with properties that can be tailored to
suit particular design requirements.
And because of the ease with which complex shapes can be
manufactured, the complete rethinking of an established design in
terms of composites can often lead to both cheaper and better solutions.
Background & History:

The composites concept is not a human invention.
Wood is a natural composite material consisting of one species of polymer
cellulose fibers with good strength and stiffness in a resinous matrix of
another polymer, the polysaccharide lignin. Nature makes a much better job
of design and manufacture than we do, although

Man was able to recognize that the way of overcoming two major
disadvantages of natural wood that of size (a tree has a limited transverse
dimension), and that of anisotropy (properties are markedly different in the
axial and radial directions) was to make the composite
material that we call plywood.

Bone, teeth and mollusce shells are other natural composites, combining
hard ceramic reinforcing phases in natural organic polymer matrices.


The relative strengths and weaknesses of metals, plastics and ceramics differ to a great
extent. A comparison in general terms, however, can identify some of the more
obvious advantages and disadvantages of the different types of material.

At a simplistic level, then:

1. Metals are mostly of medium to high density only magnesium, aluminum and
beryllium can compete with plastics in this respect.

Many have good thermal stability and may be made corrosion resistant by alloying.
They have useful mechanical properties and high toughness, and they are moderately
easy to shape and join. It is largely a consequence of their ductility and resistance to
cracking that metals, as a class, became (and remain) the preferred engineering

2. Plastics are of low density. They have good short-term chemical resistance but they lack
thermal stability and have only moderate resistance to environmental degradation
(especially that caused by the photo-chemical effects of sunlight).
They have poor mechanical properties, but are easily fabricated and joined.

3. Ceramics may be of low density (although some are very dense). They have great
thermal stability and are resistant to most forms of attack (abrasion, wear, corrosion).
Although intrinsically very rigid and strong because of their chemical bonding, they are
all brittle and can be formed and shaped only with difficulty.
Constituents/ phases of composites :

matrix (continuous) : The primary phase, having a continuous character, is called
matrix. Matrix is usually more ductile and less hard phase. It holds the dispersed
phase and shares a load with it.
dispersed phase (particulates, fibers) : The second phase (or phases) is
embedded in the matrix in a discontinuous form. This secondary phase is called
dispersed phase. Dispersed phase is usually stronger than the matrix, therefore
it is sometimes called reinforcing phase.

Classification of composites: three main categories

particle-reinforced (large-particle and dispersion-strengthened)
fiber-reinforced (continuous (aligned) and short fibers (aligned or random)
structural (laminates and sandwich panels)

Particle-reinforced Composites:

In this composite, the size of the particles in dispersed phase is same in all directions.

Large particle composites: The particulate phase has following characteristics

- Stiffer and harder as compared to matrix phase
- Act as a reinforcing material
- Restrain the movement of matrix surrounding itself
- Bond strength between two phases governs mechanical properties of composite

concrete (matrix: cement, particle phase: sand & gravel)
cermets (matrix: metals like Cr, Co, Ni and particle phase: ceramics like oxides or carbides)

Dispersion strengthened composite:

-The particle size is smaller
- hard and small particles are dispersed in the matrix phase (ceramics)with a heat treatment.
This is called as precipitation hardening or Age hardening.

examples- Alloys such as Cu-Sn, Mg-Al, Cu-Be, Al-Cu are hardened and made into
composite material with ceramics

Fiber-reinforced Composites:

These are made up of polymer matrix, a filament (common are glass and
metallic), bonding agent (binds fibre filaments to polymers)

The fibres are employed either continuously (staples) or discontinuously

High tensile strength
High specific gravity
High elastic modulus
Low overall density

Examples -
Glass fiber reinforced polymer composite
Fibre phase: long and short glass fibres
Matrix phase: Polymers such as nylon, polyesters

Used in automobile parts, pipes, storage tanks

Carbon fiber reinforced polymer composite

Matrix phase: Polymers such epoxy,nylon, polyesters
Fibre phase: carbon or graphite fibres

Used in structural components of aircrafts, sports materials, fishing rods

Structural composites:

- Consists of homogenous as well as composite materials

Laminar composites (plywood)
2D sheets or panels which are oriented and stacked one above other in preferred direction
And then cemented

Used in furniture making, false ceiling for diffused lighting

Sandwich panel (honeycomb core)
Used in roofs, walls, floors, aircrafts for wings, skins of tailpane
Applications of Composites:

Electricals & Electronics, Telecommunication
Sports goods