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Fully reinforced AMC

Low density with exceptional mechanical properties

Fully reinforced aluminium matrix composite (AMC) is a low-density material with exceptional mechanical properties – see table below. AMCs provide an opportunity to significantly reduce component mass and improve performance. Highly loaded steel or cast iron components can be replaced by lightweight, low inertia parts with no increase in package size. Aluminium components can be significantly reduced in volume, of great importance when package space is tight. However, the material does not just assist weight reduction. A fully reinforced AMC component can have substantially increased stiffness, and its lower inertia will improve the dynamic performance of the part.

There is little overlap with those applications that utilise carbon fibre reinforced polymer composites (CFRP). These materials are unsuitable for many highly loaded, discrete components, particularly those subject to off-axis, unexpected or complex load conditions. Crash performance, repairability and cost have all been cited as inhibitors to CFRP use. Other non-ferrous materials, such as polyamide PA66 and magnesium have been attracting interest, but suffer from limitations in terms of stiffness, robustness at elevated temperatures and compressive loading. Most industrial sectors make extensive use of aluminium castings and forgings, which can be readily replaced with higher performance hybrid-AMC components, providing the following properties:

  • High specific strength
  • High specific modulus
  • Improved off-axis loading
  • Electrical and thermal conductivity
  • Low CTE
  • Good temperature range
  • No moisture absorption
  • No outgassing
  • Resistant to fire
  • Resistant to radiation

CFR-AMC uses a preform manufactured from ‘Nextel’ alumina fibre, supplied by 3M. Alumina is the native oxide of aluminium and chemically inert inside it. The fibre is either filament wound or woven. Fibre volume fraction, and therefore cost, is lower when the material is woven, and post-processing of the preform is simplified. When woven so as to align the fibre predominantly in the X-direction, performance approaches that of fully unidirectional fibre. CMT preferentially uses preform supplied in 3D woven form, sourced from one of two UK suppliers, each of which is a leading exponent of 3D weaving technology. 

A graph to represent continuous fibre reinforced aluminium matrix composite properties in comparison with other materials

L=Longditudinal to fibre direction, T=Trasverse to fibre direction

All materials normalised by density

Properties of Fully reinforced AMC

Mechanical Property Value
Longitudinal Modulus 240 GPa
Transverse Modulus 130 GPa
Shear Modulus 48-57 GPa
Longitudinal Tensile Strength 1600 MPa
Longitudinal Coefficient Thermal Expansion 7 ppm/°C
Mechanical Property Value
Transverse strength 230 MPa
Shear strength 70 MPa
Density 3.4 g/cc
Longitudinal compressive strength 2500 MPa
Transverse coefficient of thermal expansion 16ppm/°C

Maximum values for continuous fibre, unidirectional, aluminium matrix composite

CMT, which is made up of CMT Plc and its subsidiary CMT Ltd, is an advanced materials technology group.

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Composite Metal Technology Ltd
Prisma Business Park, 3 Berrington Way
Wade Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire
RG24 8GT, United Kingdom

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Composite Metal Technology Ltd, Prisma Business Park, 3 Berrington Way, Wade Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG24 8GT, United Kingdom