Osswald, Tim University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Polymer matrix
- Fiber reinforcement
- Molecular orientation and polymeric fibers
- Mechanical properties
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A polymer material or matrix that is combined with fillers or fibers. Fillers are intentionally placed in polymers to make them stronger, lighter, electrically conductive, or cheaper. Any filler will affect the mechanical behavior of a polymeric material. For example, long fibers will make the material stiffer but usually denser, whereas foaming will make it more compliant but much lighter. A filler such as calcium carbonate will decrease the polymer's toughness, while making it considerably cheaper (Fig. 1). Polymer composites are also found in nature, such as wood (cellulose fibers bonded with lignin) and bone (minerals bonded with collagen).
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