Last Updated on April 26, 2021 by Admin
With the increasing dependence on composite materials in our society today, it is important that we understand a few things about how they are manufactured.
Here, we will look at some interesting details about composite materials, how composite decking boards are used today, and their advantages regardless of how they are used.
Composite materials are manufactured from two or more basic materials without dissolving them into each other.
These materials may be natural or not and will still keep their separate properties after being mixed.
However, the entire composite material may have different properties from either. This is because the different materials work together in giving the composite fortified and unique properties.
For instance, reinforced concrete made from concrete and steel is resistant to pressure and bending forces.
Also, ballistic glass (made from glass and plastic) is more resistant to impact than glass or plastic are on their own. Fibre-reinforced polymers are popular today, so as glass-reinforced plastic.
That being said, here are some interesting facts you may not have known about composite materials.
Fascinating Facts About Composite Materials
- The use of composite materials is not a new idea. Humans have been manufacturing and using composite materials for thousands of years.
- The ancient manufactured composite materials were mud and straw combined to make bricks for building construction. In fact, it is recorded in the Biblical book of Exodus when the Israelites were oppressed by Pharaoh and forced to build “bricks without straw.” Egyptian tomb paintings recorded the earliest brick-making process.
- Concrete is also a composite material. It is one of the oldest human-made composites and is used more than any other manufactured material in the world.
- Composites have also been made out of carbon known as graphene, then combined with the metal copper, which produces a material that is 500x stronger than copper on its own. Likewise, composite made out of graphene and nickel is 180 times stronger than nickel.
- Composites exist in nature. For instance, wood is a natural composite. It is made up of long cellulose fibres in an array of a substance known as lignin. Cellulose can also be found in linen and cotton. However, the binding power of lignin makes lumber stronger than a bundle of cotton fibres.
- The majority of composites are made by taking a material (the matrix) and surrounding fibres or fragments of a stronger material (the reinforcement).
- During the manufacturing process, engineers have a plethora of options to determine the properties of the resulting composite.
- Present-day aviation has been a huge driving factor for composite materials due to the high demand for materials that are both light and strong.
The Manufacturing Process of Composite Materials
Building out of a composite material generally requires a mould. The reinforcing material is placed into the mould first, and then a semi-liquid matrix material is sprayed in to form the object to be built.
Pressure could be applied to eliminate air bubbles while the mould is heated to solidify the matrix. The moulding process is usually done manually; however, the automatic process is becoming increasingly popular.
One of these processing techniques is known as ‘Pultrusion’, which is derived from two words – ‘pull’ and ‘extrusion’. It is the ideal way of making straight products with a constant cross-section.
For thin structures with complex shapes, the composite object is built by applying sheets of wove fibre reinforcement soaked with plastic matrix material over a shaped base mould. After the panel is built to the right thickness, the matrix material would be curved.
Advantages of Composite Materials
Composite materials offer builders many benefits, and this is why they have become popular in structures.
Here are some of the advantages of composite materials and why they are good for many projects:
- Composite materials have premium durability and can last for up to 25 years or more, especially when used for an outdoor decking area.
- They are very flexible and versatile as they can be designed to suit your preference.
- Composite materials have a low weight compared to other wood materials and other flooring alternatives.
- They require ultra-low maintenance.
- High impact strength
- Compared to metals, composite materials have low costs.
- Superb electrical insulation
- Composite materials are resistant to many chemical agents, weather like UV rays, mould, moisture, warp, fade, and rot, among many others. They will still maintain high performance even at elevated temperatures.