Composite materials are commonly composed of two different materials that have unique physical properties. The different characteristics of each type of material give the composite distinctive properties. While the materials are combined together they maintain their original physical properties.

A well known example of a composite material is fibreglass. Another example is wood which occurs naturally. Wood is composed of different cellulose fibres and held together by a substance called lignin. These combinations of material add strength to these materials as together they are much stronger than they would be on their own. Look at fibreglass for example which is composed of glass fibres held together by resin where on their own the woven fibers do not have the strength properties that the composite does.

The two materials in a composite each take on a separate role. These roles are known as the matrix and the reinforcement. The matrix is what binds the reinforcement together. It is often in the form of a resin or plastic. The reinforcement is a stronger material or fiber that is held together by the matrix. Together the two create a unique composite with new enhanced properties. These two roles can be played by many different materials, and can therefore the composite can be engineered to embody specific characteristics. For example, certain materials can be added to increase buoyancy, rigidity, or weather resistance.

Wood Composites

Wood composites are any type of wood fibers or veneers that have been bonded together with an adhesive or glue. This includes such materials as fiberboard, particleboard, laminated veneer lumber, plywood, oriented strand board, glue laminated timber and many others. The composite properties will depend not only on the type of wood but also the type of adhesive used. Common adhesives used for wood composites include Urea-formaldehyde, Phenol-Formaldehyde, and Polyurethane resins.

Composite woods are very good for applications that require specific characteristics as they can be engineered to meet the desired criteria. They also provide a material saving alternative to pure wood because these composites can use small or leftover particles of wood rather than needing a continuous large piece of lumber.

Other Types of Composites

There are many other types of composite materials in addition to those that contain wood. As mentioned above, fibre glass is one of the most common composites with the most widespread applications. Other composites include:

  • Plastic Composites
  • Metal Composites
  • Fiber Composites
  • Laminated Composites
  • Carbon Composites

Machining Composites

As you can see composites can have a variety of physical characteristics. However strength is one element that appears consistently as a desired feature of many composites. Therefore they require powerful cutting technology. The MultiCam Router and WaterJet technology are able to cut various composites. To see the specific capabilities of each machine click to view the material matrix:

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