A composite material is a material that is made out of two or more unique materials of different properties and characteristics. There are numerous reasons why composite materials are useful and important. First of all, composite materials can expand the spectrum as far as material capabilities offered by industry. Often times, the goal of a composite material is to combine the unique advantages of two separate materials into one superior material which contains the unique advantages of each.
For example, combining a high impact-strength material with one which does not corrode easily will produce a high impact-strength material that does not easily corrode. In general, material combination is based on highlighting one or more characteristics of two particular materials. For example, two materials where one is resistant to corrosion and another resistant to tear and wear can be combined. The resultant composite material would be both resistant to wear and corrosion.
Perhaps you are wondering what some of the advantages are of composite materials. It is important to realize the fact that numerous advantages are associated with combining more than one material to come up with a single material. First of all, it is cheaper to use a composite material than to use two separate materials with individual constituents. When two metals are combined, they can produce a material which is resistant to corrosion and wear. In cases where more than a single property is desired, composite materials are used because they can achieve multiple, desirable properties within a single material.
There are many examples of composite materials that are currently available today. A good example of widely used composite which has been in use for centuries is bronze, a composite of copper and tin with some additional elements. This combination produces a material which possesses physical and chemical characteristics that are shared between its constituent substances. It is harder than copper and is for example often used to make statues because unlike copper it does not corrode when exposed to air. There are also ceramic composites which also include silicon dioxide mixed with other substances to come up with a material that can be used to make floor and wall tiles. Another category of composites is thermoplastic composites which is comprised of a thermoplastic combined with another material such as a metal powder to increase density, or a glass or carbon fiber to increase the material’s strength.
Composites can be used in an enormous variety of application. For example, cement is a composite material made up of sand, cement and aggregates, and is in fact the world’s second most consumed substance behind only water. The usage of concrete is based on its final properties which are as a result of its constituent materials. Reinforced concrete is another example of a composite material that is used on a very large scale in the construction industry. It is mainly used to enhance the tensile strength of concrete. Other composite materials are plywood, fiber-reinforced polymers and glass which has been reinforced with fiber or plastic.