The primary functions of the matrix are to transfer stresses between the reinforcing fibers (hold fibers together) and protect the fibers from mechanical and/or environmental damages. A basic requirement for a matrix material is that its strain at break must be larger than the fibers it is holding.
Most matrices are made of resins for their wide variation in properties and relatively low cost. Common resin materials include
- Resin Matrix
- Vinyl Ester
Among these resin materials, polyesters are the most widely used. Epoxies, which have higher adhesion and less shrinkage than polyesters, come in second for their higher costs.
Although less common, non-resin matrices (mostly metals) can still be found in applications requiring higher performance at elevated temperatures, especially in the defense industry.
- Metal Matrix
- Non-Metal Matrix