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Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 1 Introduction - 1 Introduction 1.1 DEFINITION...

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1 Introduction 1.1 DEFINITION Fiber-reinforced composite materials consist of fibers of high strength and modulus embedded in or bonded to a matrix with distinct interfaces (bound- aries) between them. In this form, both fibers and matrix retain their physical and chemical identities, yet they produce a combination of properties that cannot be achieved with either of the constituents acting alone. In general, fibers are the principal load-carrying members, while the surrounding matrix keeps them in the desired location and orientation, acts as a load transfer medium between them, and protects them from environmental damages due to elevated temperatures and humidity, for example. Thus, even though the fibers provide reinforcement for the matrix, the latter also serves a number of useful functions in a fiber- reinforced composite material. The principal fibers in commercial use are various types of glass and carbon as well as Kevlar 49. Other fibers, such as boron, silicon carbide, and aluminum oxide, are used in limited quantities. All these fibers can be incorporated into a matrix either in continuous lengths or in discontinuous (short) lengths. The matrix material may be a polymer, a metal, or a ceramic. Various chemical composi- tions and microstructural arrangements are possible in each matrix category. The most common form in which fiber-reinforced composites are used in structural applications is called a laminate, which is made by stacking a number of thin layers of fibers and matrix and consolidating them into the desired thickness. Fiber orientation in each layer as well as the stacking sequence of various layers in a composite laminate can be controlled to generate a wide range of physical and mechanical properties for the composite laminate. In this book, we focus our attention on the mechanics, performance, manufacturing, and design of fiber-reinforced polymers. Most of the data presented in this book are related to continuous fiber-reinforced epoxy lamin- ates, although other polymeric matrices, including thermoplastic matrices, are also considered. Metal and ceramic matrix composites are comparatively new, but significant developments of these composites have also occurred. They are included in a separate chapter in this book. Injection-molded or reaction injection-molded (RIM) discontinuous fiber-reinforced polymers are not dis- cussed; however, some of the mechanics and design principles included in this book are applicable to these composites as well. Another material of great ß 2007 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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commercial interest is classified as particulat e composites. The major constitu- ents in these composites are particles of mica, silica, glass spheres, calcium carbonate, and others. In general, these particles do not contribute to the load- carrying capacity of the material and act more like a filler than a reinforcement for the matrix. Particulate composites, by themselves, deserve a special atten- tion and are not addressed in this book.
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Chapter 1 Introduction - 1 Introduction 1.1 DEFINITION...

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