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How to Choose a Reinforcement Material in Composite Manufacturing

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(Credit: How to Choose a Reinforcement Material in Composite Manufacturing) How to Choose a Reinforcement Material in Composite Manufacturing
November 3
12:13 AM 2021

Suppose you need to work with composite materials, or you're planning to partner with a composite manufacturer to provide quality components for one of your company's products. In that case, it helps to understand how they work to ensure your expected outcome will meet the requirements. 

What are Composite Materials?

It isn't uncommon for people outside of the composite manufacturing industry to ask the question what is a composite material used for and what properties define one? This isn't surprising, given that the larger category of composite materials covers a wide spectrum of manufactured goods and the fact that it can be challenging to understand how to identify them. 

Additionally, some of the most commonly used composite materials have only been in existence for a short time. While this industry enjoys many ongoing innovations, what defines a composite material is not all that complicated. Specifically, every example of a composite material combines two or more materials possessing different physical and chemical properties to produce a synthesis with new qualities altogether. 

This definition might sound unclear initially, but things get easier to understand once it is broken down into parts.

New Developments 

The main reason so many industries today rely on composite materials rather than basic components is that they expand the possibilities of what can be achieved by a simple material. The result of combining the two disparate parts that make up a composite material often results in 

  • Improved Strength to Weight Ratio

  • Resistance to Electricity

  • Resistance to Chemical Agents

  • Low Cost

Even though early versions of composite crafting have existed for as long as people have been building habitable structures, the industry has taken a giant leap in modern times, which was assisted by the invention of numerous synthetic materials such as polymers.  

Recent Examples

Innovations in composite manufacturing materials are often created to fulfill a specific need that no other material used in manufacturing can handle. For example, when the development of a new composite material yields a lightweight yet highly durable product, it opens up new possibilities in industries like construction, marine craft and aircraft. 

Some examples of the latest developments include:

  • Porous Carbon Fibres 

  • High-Tensile Carbon Fibres

  • Metal Corrosion Resistant Protection

  • Meta-Aramid Fibres

Nonetheless, all of the examples in the world will not suffice to explain how composite materials are invented and manufactured. 

Parts of a Composite Material 

To easily understand how composite materials are created and produced, breaking down the process into parts or phases is helpful. That is, composite materials are usually made of two different components: 

  1. A Matrix

  2. A Reinforcement Material 

The matrix serves as a binding agent to hold the reinforcement material, which usually dictates what kind of new properties the final product can achieve. You might think of the matrix as the broth and think of the reinforcement materials as the ingredients held together by the broth. That is, you could think of it in these terms if your soup was capable of hardening to create a material strong enough to become part of a new aerospace craft design. 

Some examples of a matrix and its reinforcement materials include:

  • Ceramic (reinforced with other ceramics)

  • Metal (reinforced with other metals)

  • Concrete (reinforced with steel, glass fibres or optic fibres)

  • Glue (reinforced with wood or bamboo fibres)

  • Plastic (Reinforced with wood fibre or glass fibres)

Matrix 

The first phase of manufacturing a composite is called the matrix. This material is homogenous and continuous to provide a base for another material to reinforce. Some of the functions that a matrix fulfills includes: 

  • Cohere to bind reinforcement materials together 

  • Allow reinforcement materials to work together to exhibit their load-bearing capabilities 

Again, the matrix acts as a binder to allow stronger but different reinforcement materials to work together. 

Reinforcement Material

The process of reinforcement is what distinguishes a composite from any other type of material. While the matrix is used to bind everything together, the reinforcement material is usually the strongest constituent in the entire blend that makes up the final product.

Gaining a Clearer Picture

When you need to decide on what to use as a reinforcement material, the essential aspect to consider is what application the final product needs to achieve. For example, if you need to reinforce a matrix to produce a material of higher strength, you may want to consider carbon fibres. 

Alternatively, if you require a capability for heat resistance, you might consider aramid fibres. That said, in some cases, the reinforcement material that you desire may not combine well with the matrix you need for the job.  

Ultimately, it would be best if you always spoke to a professional composite manufacturer to determine what qualities and materials you'll need to fulfill whatever requirements you have. Get in contact with a company that offers a wide range of services in composite manufacturing for help in determining what reinforcement material and matrix will best suit your needs.

© 2021 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
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