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Materials science - A235

From CKN Knowledge in Practice Centre
Foundational Knowledge - A3Materials science - A235
Materials science
Foundational knowledge article
Material structure-XN8zanG9Hcmk.svg
Document Type Article
Document Identifier 235

Overview[edit | edit source]

This section of the foundational knowledge volume contains topics relating to the materials science of composite materials. The topics covered are foundational towards the process-structure-performance relationship that is observed for composite materials.

Page topics are categorized according to the following key subjects:

By visiting the links provided, you can explore the topics and learn more.

Material Structure[edit | edit source]

Link to main Material Structure page

Solid materials are categorized into basic group classifications defined by their chemical makeup and atomic structure [1]. They fall into three basic classifications: metals, ceramics, and polymers. Composite materials are by definition a mix of two or more distinct material classes.

The content within the KPC focuses on polymer matrix composites (PMCs), and within these primarily on fibre reinforced polymers (FRPs). KPC pages for material structure focus on the matrix materials constituents, reinforcement material constituents, and their combined material forms relevant towards FRP composites.

Composite materials are typically constructed by laminating, or stacking layers of material (lamina) on top of each other that build up to the desired material structure.
Matrix Constituents Reinforcement Constituents
  • Thermoset polymers
  • Thermoplastic polymers
  • Ceramics (glass and carbon fibres)
  • Polymer fibres

In their combined material form, FRP composites are multi-size scale in nature – the lamina to laminate to component structure of FRPs will also be presented within material structure.

Click here to go to the Material Structure page and learn more about:

  • Polymer (matrix) structure
  • Reinforcement structure
  • Composite structure

Material Properties[edit | edit source]

Link to main Material Properties page

A material property is an attribute of a material expressed in terms of its measured response to specific imposed stimulus [1]. For example, a material’s deformation response to imposed forces. Material property definitions are independent of shape and size of the material. When selecting a material, it is a specific set of attributes (material properties) of a material that a designer seeks [2].

Material properties may be dependent on the specific direction of measurement. Properties that are measured the same in all directions, therefore independent of direction, are referred to as isotropic. Properties dependent on the axis direction of measurement are referred to as anisotropic or non-isotropic.

With the content within the KPC focusing on polymer matrix composites (PMCs), and primarily on fibre reinforced polymers (FRPs); the material property pages found in the KPC will focus on those properties most relevant to these materials and their processing.

Click here to go to the Material Properties page and learn more about:

  • General material properties
  • Polymer properties
  • Reinforcement properties
  • Composite properties

Explore this area further

Related pages

Page type Links
Introduction to Composites Articles
Foundational Knowledge Articles
Foundational Knowledge Method Documents
Foundational Knowledge Worked Examples
Systems Knowledge Articles
Systems Knowledge Method Documents
Systems Knowledge Worked Examples
Systems Catalogue Articles
Systems Catalogue Objects – Material
Systems Catalogue Objects – Shape
Systems Catalogue Objects – Tooling and consumables
Systems Catalogue Objects – Equipment
Practice Documents
Case Studies
Perspectives Articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 [Ref] Callister, William D. (2003). Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-13576-3.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  2. [Ref] Ashby, M.F. (2011). Materials Selection in Mechanical Design. Elsevier. doi:10.1016/C2009-0-25539-5. ISBN 9781856176637.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: date and year (link)

About Help
CKN KPC logo


Welcome to the CKN Knowledge in Practice Centre (KPC). The KPC is a resource for learning and applying scientific knowledge to the practice of composites manufacturing. As you navigate around the KPC, refer back to the information on this right-hand pane as a resource for understanding the intricacies of composites processing and why the KPC is laid out in the way that it is. The following video explains the KPC approach:

Understanding Composites Processing

The Knowledge in Practice Centre (KPC) is centered around a structured method of thinking about composite material manufacturing. From the top down, the heirarchy consists of:

The way that the material, shape, tooling & consumables and equipment (abbreviated as MSTE) interact with each other during a process step is critical to the outcome of the manufacturing step, and ultimately critical to the quality of the finished part. The interactions between MSTE during a process step can be numerous and complex, but the Knowledge in Practice Centre aims to make you aware of these interactions, understand how one parameter affects another, and understand how to analyze the problem using a systems based approach. Using this approach, the factory can then be developed with a complete understanding and control of all interactions.

The relationship between material, shape, tooling & consumables and equipment during a process step

Interrelationship of Function, Shape, Material & Process

Design for manufacturing is critical to ensuring the producibility of a part. Trouble arises when it is considered too late or not at all in the design process. Conversely, process design (controlling the interactions between shape, material, tooling & consumables and equipment to achieve a desired outcome) must always consider the shape and material of the part. Ashby has developed and popularized the approach linking design (function) to the choice of material and shape, which influence the process selected and vice versa, as shown below:

The relationship between function, material, shape and process

Within the Knowledge in Practice Centre the same methodology is applied but the process is more fully defined by also explicitly calling out the equipment and tooling & consumables. Note that in common usage, a process which consists of many steps can be arbitrarily defined by just one step, e.g. "spray-up". Though convenient, this can be misleading.

The relationship between function, material, shape and process consisting of Equipment and Tooling and consumables


The KPC's Practice and Case Study volumes consist of three types of workflows:

  • Development - Analyzing the interactions between MSTE in the process steps to make decisions on processing parameters and understanding how the process steps and factory cells fit within the factory.
  • Troubleshooting - Guiding you to possible causes of processing issues affecting either cost, rate or quality and directing you to the most appropriate development workflow to improve the process
  • Optimization - An expansion on the development workflows where a larger number of options are considered to achieve the best mixture of cost, rate & quality for your application.