A composite material is created by the combination of two or more materials: a reinforcing element and a compatible resin binder (matrix) to obtain specific characteristics and properties. The components do not dissolve completely into each other or otherwise chemically merge, although they do act synergistically. A common type of a composite material is fiberglass. The more advanced structural composites use fibers of glass, carbon/graphite, boron, Kevlar® (aramid), and other organic materials. Composites use a matrix design with different types of fibers and are either of a laminate or sandwich construction. By tailoring the materials and fabrication methods, and by modifying structural designs to accommodate their unique properties, advanced composites can be used for applications requiring high strength, high stiffness, or low thermal conductivity. Advanced composites containing materials such as carbon/graphite, boron, or aramid fibers in an organic resin matrix are currently used mainly by the aerospace industries.
By Gary Conner
By George N Bullen FSME