Industrial Applications of Polymer Composite Materials

Industrial Applications of Polymer Composite Materials

Divya Zindani (National Institute of Technology Silchar, India) and K. Kumar (Birla Institute of Technology, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5216-1.ch001


Polymeric composites are being used widely for industrial applications. This is because of a number of advantages offered by the composite materials. Some of the advantages offered are low weight, enhanced mechanical properties, excellent durability, etc. Therefore, this chapter provides an overview of different industrial applications of polymeric composites. The different industrial sectors considered are automotive, military, aerospace, sports and leisure, and industrial construction. The authors are of the opinion that the importance of polymeric composites could be realized with the applications presented in this review.
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Composites are materials consisting of two or more phases that are physically and chemically distinct. The different phases constituting a composite are separated by distinct interfaces. The combination results in a material with enhanced structural and functional properties (Mayer et al., 1998). Composite materials have a number of advantages such as high resistance to corrosion, high fatigue strength and low weight. The advantages associated with the composites have led to their widespread application. A wide array of industrial such as aerospace, automotive, sports leisure goods, military and biomedical are using composite materials to produce different products (Shaw et al., 2010). Umpteen examples can be found of composites in nature, for instance the connective tissues in mammals.

Composite materials consist of matrix phase and a dispersed phase. Matrix phase has continuous character and is the primary phase. The matrix phase serves to hold the dispersed phase and shares the load with it. Dispersed phase on the other hand is discontinuous in nature and is embedded in the matrix. The dispersed phase is known as the reinforcement and is the secondary phase. The dispersing phase typically has higher strength than the matrix phase. Examples include that of wood wherein the matrix is lignin and the dispersing phase are the cellulose fibres. Reinforced concrete is another example of composite material wherein the steel is the dispersing phase and concrete is the matrix.

With the advancements, more advanced composites were invented with their roots expanding to industrial applications. These advanced composites have a higher performing reinforcement in polymeric matrix such as graphite/epoxy, Kevlar/epoxy and boron/epoxy composites. Further, the flexibility to obtain the desired mechanical properties suiting the structural needs and aspects, the formability, dimensional stability, thermal and acoustical characteristics etc. have rendered the polymeric composites for a wide range of industrial applications such as transportation, industrial and sports and leisure.

The construction industries have considered the use of fibre reinforced polymeric composites such as glass, aramid fibres in matrices of epoxy, polyester, vynilester resins (Bunshell and Renard, 2005). Basalt fibres have been considered and used by the construction industries to suit the high temperature situations (Şerbescu et al., 2006). The use of composites has made it easier to fabricate and assemble different building structures with enhanced load bearing capabilities (Taranu, 2009).

Similarly in the automotive industry, the traditionally used metals are being replaced by the polymeric composites which has not only become a trend but also a necessity. The reason can be attributed to the increasing legal restrictions by the different regulating bodies across the globe. The use of polymeric composites has increased the fuel economy of the different class of vehicles.

Thus polymeric composites (PMC) have become an integral part of a wide range of industries. As such their applications in the industries should be explored systematically. The present chapter is an attempt to explore the industrial applications of the polymeric composites. The chapter is organized to include the following sections: Polymeric matrix composites, discussing the advantages, disadvantages, factors affecting properties of PMCs and fabrication techniques of PMCs; Applications of PMC, discussing industrial applications of the PMCs. The chapter finally concludes with the concluding remarks.

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