It is rare to hear the term “polymer composites” on a daily basis. However, products that have this material are present in the routine of most people. So, after all, what are these composites?
To clarify this question, Polyexcel prepared exclusive content on the subject, explaining everything from what are polymeric composites to how they are used — from the most common to the most specific. Read on and check it out!
What are polymer composites?
Polymer composite materials are the result of a mixture between two substances. This is done to obtain a product with a quality superior to the originals. In other words, the idea is to create a resource that meets the needs that pure polymers do not.
The composite can be formed by two or more materials of different natures. Generally, they are composed of a polymer matrix and a support material, which can be organic or inorganic. Together, these materials form phases.
It is also worth mentioning that polymer composites use thermoplastic or thermoset matrices at temperatures below 200 ºC.
Difference between polymer blends and composites
Composites are different from polymer blends. Although the two are mixtures, blends are physical mixes with at least two different polymers (miscible or immiscible), which will depend on the level of thermodynamic interaction between the two materials.
Both aim to form materials that are more resistant than pure polymers. However, usually, the blend presents incompatibility between the components, which is its main technological problem. Therefore, it usually asks for compatibilizing agents.
Materials used in polymer composites
Now that you know what are composites, it is important to learn what are the types of polymers and other substances that can be used in the mixture, as well as reinforcing materials, loads, and additive agents.
- polyester resin;
- vinyl ester resin;
- epoxy resin;
Loads, agents, and additives
- UV absorbers;
- flame retardants.
- aramid fiber;
- carbon fiber.
Advantages and disadvantages of polymer composites
The polymer matrix composite aims to create a material that is stronger than pure polymer. However, while it becomes resistant in some ways, it can also have some disadvantages.
Therefore, it is worth knowing both the positive and the negative sides of polymer composites before choosing this material. Learn about some main ones below.
Among the main advantages of polymer composites is the high specific resistance, especially when compared to the polymer in its pure state. Other relevant points are:
- low specific weight;
- high specific module;
- high corrosion resistance;
- flexibility and freedom of design forms.
If, on one hand, the polymeric composite has high specific resistance, on the other, it has reduced impact resistance. In addition, it features:
- degradation of properties at high temperatures;
- relative absence of project criteria;
- difficult and inaccurate defect detection;
- expensive and complex inspection procedures.
Note that the properties of polymer composites vary according to the types of polymers and fibers used, as well as its proportions.
Where polymer composites are used?
At the beginning of this text, we mentioned that products made with polymer composites are part of our daily lives. But how can we identify them?
Have in mind that the composites can be presented in different ways: in airplanes, rockets, and satellites — very common in the aeronautical sector — or even in swimming pools, kayaks, and toys, contributing to the fun of the whole family.
The naval segment also uses polymer compounds in jet skis, sailboats, motorboats, and the like. In motorsport, we find these materials in bodies, brakes, and chassis. In civil construction, they are present in tiles and synthetic marbles.
At Polyexcel, an example of a mineral-filled polymer matrix composite is HFFR. Among its main features is the flame retardant effect.
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