Metal, Ceramic, and
In the earlier chapters of this book, we considered the performance, manufac-
turing, and design issues pertaining to polymer matrix composites. In this
chapter, we review the thermomechanical properties of metal, ceramic, and
carbon matrix composites and a few important manufacturing methods used in
producing such composites.
The history of development of metal, ceramic, and carbon matrix compos-
ites is much more recent than that of the polymer matrix composites. Initial
research on the metal and ceramic matrix composites was based on continuous
carbon or boron fibers, but there were difficulties in producing good quality
composites due to adverse chemical reaction between these fibers and the
matrix. With the development of newer fibers, such as silicon carbide or
aluminum oxide, in the early 1980s, there has been a renewed interest and an
accelerated research activity in developing the technology of both metal and
ceramic matrix composites. The initial impetus for this development has come
from the military and aerospace industries, where there is a great need for
materials with high strength-to-weight ratios or high modulus-to-weight ratios
that can also withstand severe high temperature or corrosive environments.
Presently, these materials are very expensive and their use is limited to appli-
cations that can use their special characteristics, such as high temperature
resistance or high wear resistance. With developments of lower cost fibers
and more cost-effective manufacturing techniques, it is conceivable that both
metal and ceramic matrix composites will find commercial applications in
automobiles, electronic packages, sporting goods, and others.
The carbon matrix composites are more commonly known as carbon–
carbon composites, since they use carbon fibers as the reinforcement for carbon
matrix. The resulting composite has a lower density, higher modulus and
strength, lower coefficient of thermal expansion, and higher thermal shock
resistance than conventional graphite. The carbon matrix composites have
been used as thermal protection materials in the nose cap and the leading
edges of the wing of space shuttles. They are also used in rocket nozzles, exit
cones, and aircraft brakes, and their potential applications include pistons in
2007 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.