Composite Materials

Contents: ‡Advantages ‡Applications ‡Limitations
by Manruth shetty

Advantages of Composites:
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ High specific strength Design freedom Structural efficiency/stability Toughness Corrosion resistance Fatigue life Acoustic dampening Thermal insulation (ability to virtually fire proof) Electrical insulation

‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡

Less parts (Large part size possible) High volume production Cost-effective fabrication Good abrasion resistance Good puncture resistance Long life Low maintenance Low through life costs

Specific strength of different materials

Applications of composite materials:
Lance Armstrong s 2-lb. Trek bike, 2004 Tour de France

Pedestrian bridge in Denmark, 130 feet long (1997)

Swedish Navy, Stealth (2005)

Applications in different fields
Transportation 30.6%

Aircraft/Aerospace 0.7% Construction 20%

Other- 3.4% Consumer Products 6% Electrical/ Electronic - 10% Corrosion-Resistant Equipment - 12.4% SOURCE: SPI Composites Institute

Marine - 11.6% Appliance/Business Equipment - 5.3%

Composites in Construction process
Aluminum composite
A cloth of woven carbon fibre filaments, a common element in composite materials

Column Wrapping Device

Base layer of asphalt concrete in a road under construction Steel reinforced concrete being laid

Plywood is a common composite material that many people encounter in their everyday lives

Current aerospace applications:
‡ Starting from 0% Composites in 1975 to:  Airbus A380 ~25% composites ~70 tons per aircraft  Boeing 787 ~50 % composites ~55 tons per aircraft

‡ Composites now make up a $7.3 billion market expected to quadruple in the next 20 years

Advanced aircraft and aerospace vehicles rely heavily on composites. The carbon-fibre reinforced polymers used in aircraft bodies. A high-performance wing, made from a carbon-reinforced epoxy, is very lightweight, stiff, and strong, with an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio.

The wings of this Saab fighter are produced of carbon reinforced epoxy, by manual fibre moulding, followed by autoclave injection moulding.

CNT Polymer Composites


Sheet Molding Compound


Sheet Molding Compound

Automotive Plastics and Composites Use
‡ Exterior Composite Panels
± doors
‡ Sheet Molded Compound (SMC): Camaro , Firebird and Corvette ‡ Resin Transfer Molding (RTM): Viper

± hoods
‡ Sheet Molded Compound (SMC): Camaro , Firebird, Corvette, Ford trucks ‡ Resin Transfer Molding (RTM): Viper, Heavy duty trucks)

± bumper beams
‡ Glass Mat Thermoplastic (GMT): Camaro , Firebird, Venture, Transport,

‡ Interior
± floor pan
‡ Resin Transfer Molding (RTM): Corvette

‡ Engine
± valve covers, intake manifolds, fluid containers, etc.

Composites in sports
‡ Snow Equipment
± skis, snow boards, snow mobiles, etc.

‡ Water Sports Equipment
± water skis, water crafts, snorkel equipment, fishing gear ± diving equipment

‡ Land Sports Equipment
± shoes, roller blades, skate boards, tennis, golf

‡ Air Sports Equipment
± plane kits

Cermets (metals + ceramics)

‡ Machining : The combination of wear resistance, speed and increased toughness can make cermets outstanding in machining applications. ‡ They are also used in resistors and electronic circuits since they can withstand high temperatures

Biomedical application
‡ They include implants( hips, heart valves, skin & teeth) ‡ Surgical and diagnostic devices ‡ Pacemakers ‡ Wheelchairs and exercise equipments ‡ Pharmaceutical packaging ‡ Bone replacement & bone growth materials

Other applications

Flexible composite material Honey comb composite

Insulating composite sheet


Limitations of composite materials
‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Difficulties in Disposal Difficulties in Recycling Susceptibility to Impact damage Difficulties with Inspection Difficulties with Repair Difficulties to stick to other materials Cost of tooling and layup Cost of raw materials

Source: Internet References:
[1] Y. Xu and D.D.L. Chung, Low-Volume-Fraction Particulate Preforms for Making MetalMatrix Composites by Liquid Metal Infiltration, J. Mater. Sci. 33(19), 4707 4710 (1998). [2] S.-W. Lai and D.D.L. Chung, Consumption of Si C Whiskers by the Al-Si C Reaction in Aluminium Matrix SiCWhisker Composites , J. Mater. Chem. 6(3), 469 477 (1996). [3] P. Yih and D.D.L. Chung, A Comparative Study of the Coated Filler Method and the Admixture Method of Powder Metallurgy for Making Metal-Matrix Composites, J. Mater. Sci. 32(11), 2873 2894 (1997). [4] P. Yih and D.D.L. Chung, Titanium Diboride Copper-Matrix Composites, J. Mater. Sci. 32(7), 1703 1709 (1997).

Further Reading:
D.R. Askeland and P.P. Phule, The Science and Engineering of Materials, 5th Edition, Thomson, Toronto, 2006, Chaps. 16, 17 and 18. D.D.L. Chung, Electromagnetic Interference Shielding Effectiveness of Carbon Materials , Carbon 39(2), 279 285 (2001). .