To give us more insight into a composite, we will first have to define what exactly a composite is. There are several definitions in circulation that describe what a composite is:
- Combination of a stronger and weaker material
- A material composed of several parts
- Combination of two materials
Composites often refer to (a variant of) the “materials triangle”. In this they show that the possibilities of creating a certain construction are strongly related to the material used and the production method.
The restriction that only “macroscopically distinguishable materials” are eligible, ensures that alloys, two-component adhesives and saline solutions are excluded. When we talk about composites, we are talking about fibers that are embedded in plastic, also known as fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP). The strength of the fibers is used to create a material that is stronger than the plastic itself.
Our focus is mainly on fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP) for use in load-bearing structures. By “better performance” is meant that the correct use of composites can make the structure stronger, stiffer, more resistant to long-term loads, etc. than when using the individual materials. However, this does not mean that the construction will always be better than a construction made of another material.