A composite material is a solid material made up of at least two constituents the respective properties of which complement each other to form a material with an overall enhanced performance.
A structural composite material is generally made up of a reinforcement and a matrix. The reinforcement is usually in the form of fibres or filaments, and provides the mechanical properties.
The matrix acts as a binder to protect the reinforcement from the environment, to keep it in its initial position and to transmit loads.
There is a binding zone called the interface between the reinforcement and the matrix. Most composite materials are heterogeneous and anisotropic.
• mass-produced composite materials with lower mechanical properties but a cost compatible with large scale mass production;
• high performance composite materials with high specific mechanical properties and a high unit cost. These are mostly used in aeronautics and the space industry.