R3 Effects of combining materials

Posted: October 10, 2010 in Resistant Materials

Initial knowledge 1

Current working knowledge 2

Materials can be combined for a number of different reasons.  It could be for practical reasons, aesthetic purposes, cost efficiency or for functioning qualities.  I combined aluminium with clear acrylic in ED216 and it was for aesthetic reasons really.  I had presented a brief where in which I wanted to create a contemporary looking plate rack which was original from anything else on the market and after analysing the existing products and the target market I felt that by combining the two different materials the effect could be achieved.

When making my space saving unit I combined pine with plywood.  The pine was used as it is strong and durable and was suitable for the framing structure, whereas the plywood was included for the panels as it helped add a lighter weight stability and was a more cost effective and practical wood than continuing to use pine.

In industry  Steelworkers  very rarely  work  with  pure metals,  but they must be knowledgeable of their properties because the alloys that they work with are a combination of pure metals.  Metals such as iron aluminium and magnesium are the base metals of the alloys, other  metals such as chromium titanium and manganese are alloying elements that are only present in small quantities but are very important in their effect.  An “alloy” is defined as a substance having metallic properties  that  is  composed  of  two  or  more  elements.  The  elements  used  as  alloying  substances  are  usually metals  or  metalloids.  The  properties  of  an  alloy  differ from the properties of the pure metals or metalloids that make up the alloy and this difference is what creates the usefulness  of  alloys.  By  combining  metals  manufacturers  can  develop  alloys  that have the particular properties for a specific use so it is evident that ongoing research is always taking place to see how the effect of combining materials can produce better improved performance than that of a single material.

On a more scientific note when we had the presentation with Diane Aston she went into detail about how a variety of artificial tissues and organs can be synthesized by employing plastics, composites, ceramics and glasses that are able to interface harmoniously or even replace body tissues and parts.  Polyurethenes, carbons and silicones are currently being combined and employed for things like bone implants and replacement hip joints.  We were able to interact with a couple of examples and I found it interesting that some of the methods had been around for decades but as with any science, there is an ongoing will to actively seek improvement by looking at combinations of other materials that in the long term will be more durable and effective than the ones currently available.

Another area that seems to constantly be rejuvinated by new composites is that of engineering materials and in particular load bearing materials that can be housed in a relatively weak protective matrix that mimic biological structures.  By combining metals, ceramics and polymers advanced materials can be produced resulting in a composite material that has engineering properties superior to those of the materials on their own.  On a more basic level I suppose it has been going on for years with things like steel reinforced concrete although this is more putting the two with one another rather than combining them on a molecular level.

The current generation of advanced composite materials have probably produced some of the lightest, strongest, stiffest and corrosion resistant materials available to engineers in history with the degree of sophistication of a broad range of materials increasing dramatically while the weight of these engineered materials decreases.  An engineer can develop materials with different properties in different directions or alternatively in different regions of a material and by selecting and placing appropriate reinforcements in composite materials the strength can be enhanced in the locations where it is required in order to achieve design and cost efficiencies.


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