Composites refer to a material consisting of two or more individual constituents. The reinforcing constituent is embedded in a matrix to form the composite. One form of composites is particulate reinforced composites with concrete being a good example. The aggregate of coarse rock or gravel is embedded in a matrix of cement. The aggregate provides stiffness and strength while the cement acts as the binder to hold the structure together.
There are many different forms of particulate composites. The particulates can be very small particles (< 0.25 microns), chopped fibers (such as glass), platelets, hollow spheres, or new materials such as bucky balls or carbon nano-tubes. In each case, the particulates provide desirable material properties and the matrix acts as binding medium necessary for structural applications.
Particulate composites offer several advantages. They provide reinforcement to the matrix material thereby strengthening the material. The combination of reinforcement and matrix can provide for very specific material properties. For example, the inclusion of conductive reinforcements in a plastic can produce plastics that are somewhat conductive. Particulate composites can often use more traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding which reduces cost.
Uses in Industry
Glass reinforced plastics are used in many automotive applications including body panels, bumpers, dashboards, and intake manifolds. Brakes are made of particulate composite composed of carbon or ceramics particulates.
Many of the plastic components we use in daily life are reinforced in some way. Appliances, toys, electrical products, computer housings, cell phone casings, office furniture, helmets, etc. are made from particulate reinforced plastics.
- Improved material properties
- Tailored material properties
- Manufacturing flexibility
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