Any substance that combines more than one raw material in order to enjoy the benefits of multiple elements is classed as a composite. Composite materials are formed through the combination of at least two base components, sometimes with extra additives to help boost certain characteristics of the produced composite. The use of composite materials dates back thousands of years to the production of composite bricks crafted from straw and mud in ancient societies.
Today, there are four major types of composite materials:
- Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs)
- Carbon matrix composites (CAMCs)
- Polymer matrix composites (PMCs)
- Metal matrix composites (MMCs)
In the 21st century, these four categories of new and high-tech composite materials are redefining industries and providing us with the opportunity to replace commonly used natural materials with composites designed and created to have specific features and strengths for precise tasks. Replacing timber products with wood plastic composite for its water resistance, or replacing heavy metals with equally strong but lightweight carbon fibre composites, are both examples of how composite materials can be used to drive the progression of modern industries.
Two or More Major Ingredients
Most commonly, composite materials have been created from two main components; usually, these include a base metal, or ‘matrix’, combined with fibrous strands of the secondary component. Like in carbon fibre materials, these fibrous strands help provide the tensile strength and rigidity of the final composite.
Extra Additives for Specific Features
Creating a composite material from your two base components will produce a composite that boast better physical properties, like higher strength and water resistance. But there are other specific characteristics you may want your final composite to have, like UV resistance, temperature resistance, anti-aging, or properties to boost the final material’s aesthetics.
Machining with CNC
Once you have produced your final composite material, all that’s left is to machine it into parts or products. Computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining is the most common method of mass machining parts, as the computer will ensure absolute precision. In order to machine composites, you’ll often need to use composites to do so! Specialist machining tool tips are required to tackle the hardest materials, like polycrystalline diamond (PCD) drill bits or tungsten carbide end mills.