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Introduction to Composite Materials

Composite materials are made up of two or more materials on a macroscopic scale. Polymer matrix composites are plastics (resins) within which there are embedded fibres. The plastic is known as the matrix, and the fibres orientated within it are known as the reinforcement.

The reinforcement tends to be stiffer and stronger than the matrix providing stiffness and strength. Reinforcement is laid in a particular direction, within the matrix, so that the resulting material will have different properties in different directions i.e. composites have anisotropic properties. This characteristic is exploited to optimise the design and provide high mechanical performance where it is needed.