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Advanced composite materials (ACMs) are also known as advanced polymer matrix composites. These are generally characterized or determined by unusually high strength fibres with unusually high stiffness, or modulus of elasticity characteristics, compared to other materials, while bound together by weaker matrices. These are termed advanced composite materials (ACM) in comparison to the composite materials commonly in use such as reinforced concrete, or even concrete itself. The high strength fibers are also low density while occupying a large fraction of the volume
Advanced composites exhibit desirable physical and chemical properties that include light weight coupled with high stiffness (elasticity), and strength along the direction of the reinforcing fiber, dimensional stability, temperature and chemical resistance, flex performance, and relatively easy processing. Advanced composites are replacing metal components in many uses, particularly in the aerospace industry.
Composites are classified according to their matrix phase. These classifications are polymer matrix composites (PMCs), ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), and metal matrix composites (MMCs). Also, materials within these categories are often called "advanced" if they combine the properties of high (axial, longitudinal) strength values and high (axial, longitudinal) stiffness values, with low weight, corrosion resistance, and in some cases special electrical properties.
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