Composites are two or more materials with markedly different physical or chemical properties – categorized as “matrix” or “reinforcement” – combined in a way that they act in concert, but remain separate and distinct at some level because they don’t fully merge or dissolve into one another.
In many ways, composites exemplify the concept of a whole being “greater” than the sum of its parts. Man-made composite materials date back many, many centuries – think of workers in ancient Egypt combining straw and mud to produce bricks, for instance!
Modern composite materials are distinguished by their high specific strength, ability to form shapes and inherent durability. They have been embraced by manufacturers, designers and engineers for these highly desirable qualities, as well as their cost-effectiveness. Composites solve problems and inspire new market applications. They generate billions in revenue each year and contribute to the employment of millions of people.