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Polymer-matrix composites are among the lightest structural materials in use today. They are also highly resistant to corrosion and fatigue and their load-carrying capabilities, such as strength and stiffness, can be tailored for specific applications. This chapter discusses the primary advantages and disadvantages of polymer-matrix composites, how they are produced, and how they perform in different applications. It describes the construction of laminates, the fibers and resins used, and the methods by which they are combined. It explains how strength, modulus, toughness, and high-temperature and corrosion behaviors are determined by the orientation, shape, and spacing of fibers, the number of plies, resin properties, and consolidation and forming methods. The chapter also covers secondary fabrication processes, such as thermoforming, machining, and joining, as well as production equipment and product forms, and include guidelines for optimizing tradeoffs when selecting fibers, resins, and production techniques.

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