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CVS 518 - MECHANICS OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS

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1.1 Classification of Composite Materials
Two phases make up the structure of composites; matrix and reinforcing phase:-

Matrix:
This is the constituent that is continuous in a composite material and is in most cases the one
present in greater quantity. Addition of other constituents improves the properties of the matrix.

Reinforcing Phase (reinforcement):
This is the 2
nd
constituent. It reinforces or enhances the mechanical properties of the matrix. In most
cases, the reinforcement is harder, stronger and stiffer than the matrix. Reinforcement can either be
particulate or fibrous. The dimensions of the reinforcement determine its capability of distributing
its properties to the composite.

The classification of composites is based on the nature and arrangement of the constituent phases.

Particulate reinforcements:
A particle by definition is non-fibrous and generally has no long dimension with the exception of
platelets. The dimensions are approximately equal in all directions. The shape of the reinforcing
particles may be spherical, cubic, platelet or any regular or irregular geometry. The arrangement of
the particulate reinforcement may be random or with a preferred orientation. In the majority of
particulate reinforced composites the orientation of the particles is considered, for practical purposes,
to be random. In general, particles are not very effective in improving fracture resistance. However,
particles of rubber-like substances in brittle polymer matrices improve fracture resistance by
promoting and then arresting crazing in brittle matrices. Other types of particles such as ceramic,
metal or inorganic particle, produce reinforcing effects in metallic matrices by different
strengthening mechanisms. Particles in a particulate composite place constraints on the plastic
deformation of the matrix material between them because of their inherent hardness relative to the
matrix. Particles are effective in enhancing the stiffness of composites but do not offer the potential
for much strengthening. The particles and matrix material in any particulate composite can be any
combination of metallic and non-metallic materials. The choice of particular combination depends
on the desired properties. For example; particles of lead are mixed with copper alloys and steel to
improve their machinability. In addition, lead is a natural lubricant in bearings made of copper
alloys. Particles of many brittle materials such as tungsten, molybdenum and chromium are
incorporated into ductile metals to improve their elevated temperature performance while
maintaining ductile characteristics at room temperature.

Fibrous reinforcement:
It is characterized by the length of fibre being much greater than its cross-sectional dimension.
However, the ratio of length to the cross-sectional dimension L/D, known as the aspect ratio A.R,
CVS 518 - MECHANICS OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS
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can vary considerably. A reinforcement having long dimension discourages the growth of incipient
cracks normal to the reinforcement that might otherwise lead to failure, particularly in brittle
matrices. Fibres are very effective in improving fracture resistance of the matrix. Fibres that lie
parallel to the direction of load help share the load to a greater extent than particles would.

Thin flakes offer attractive features for an effective reinforcement. They have a primarily two-
dimensional geometry and thus impart equal strength in all directions in their plane compared to
fibers that are unidirectional reinforcements, Flakes, when laid parallel can be packed more closely
than fibres or spherical particles, Mica flakes' are used in electrical and. heat insulating applications.
Mica flakes embedded in a glassy matrix provide composites that can be machined easily and are
used in electrical applications. Aluminium flakes are commonly employed in paints and other
coatings in which they orient themselves parallel to the surface of the coating and give them
exceptionally good properties. Silver flakes are employed where good conductivity is required. It
has not been possible to fully exploit the attractive possibilities of flake composites because of
fabrication difficulties.

Single-layer composites:
Long fibres with high aspect ratios give what are called continuous fibre reinforced composites,
whereas discontinuous fibre composites are fabricated using short fibres of low aspect ratio. The
orientation of the discontinuous fibres may be random or preferred and (The frequently encountered
preferred orientation in the case of a continuous fibre composite is termed unidirectional and the
corresponding random situation can be approximated to by bidirectional woven reinforcement.

Multilayered composites
These are another category of fibre reinforced composites. They are classified as either laminates or
hybrids.

Laminates - Sheet constructions made by stacking layers (also called plies or laminae and usually
unidirectional) in a specified sequence. A typical laminate may have between 4 to 40 layers and the
fibre orientation changes from layer to layer in a regular manner throughout the thickness of the
laminate. For example, 0/90
o
stacking sequence results in a cross-ply composite.

Hybrids - Usually multilayered composites with mixed fibres. The fibres may be mixed in a ply or
layer by layer and these composites are designed to benefit from the different properties of the fibres
employed.

















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Fig 1.3 Class

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CVS 518 - MECHANICS OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS
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