Composites : materials, usually man-made, that are a three-dimensional combination of at least two chemically distinct materials, with a distinct interface separating the components, created to obtain properties that cannot be achieved by any of the components acting alone.
This reinforcement is usually in fibre form.
Today, the most common man-made composites can be divided into three main groups :
Polymer Matrix Composites (PMC's) - These are the most common and will the main area of discussion in this guide. Also known as FRP - Fibre Reinforced Polymers (or Plastics) - these materials use a polymer-based resin as the matrix, and a variety of fibres such as glass, carbon and aramid as the reinforcement.
Metal Matrix Composites (MMC's) - Increasingly found in the automotive industry, these materials use a metal such as aluminium as the matrix, and reinforce it with fibres such as silicon carbide.
Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC's) - Used in very high temperature environments, these materials use a ceramic as the matrix and reinforce it with short fibres, or whiskers such as those made from silicon carbide and boron nitride.