Metal matrix composites (MMC) have been a topic of intensive research in materials for about two decades, and have found their way to practical applications such as electronic heat sinks, automotive drive shafts, ground vehicle brake rotors, jet fighter aircraft fins, or explosion engine components. In all cases, engineering implementation of these materials has been successful, but has necessitated significant time, in particular due to the necessity to transmit knowledge of the existence of these materials, to collect relevant data on their properties, including both physical and mechanical properties as well as their projected cost and recyclability, and to test their performance in service. Further increasing the lead-time for implementation of these materials is the multiplicity of compositions and internal architectures that can be produced: this multiplicity increases their capabilities, but also reduces the ease with which designers can gain access to knowledge of the full potential or limitations of a class of materials that remains somewhat confusing. The aim of this proposal is to contribute towards accelerating the dissemination of knowledge pertaining to this class of materials, with a focus on knowledge pertinent to their practical applications in engineering. The proposed network brings together researchers from industry, applied research institutions and universities working in different topics related to MMC: - Processing, quality control and recycling; - Characterisation and modelling; - Working and shaping; - Testing and properties; - Application, product development, cost/benefit analysis. The network is to be subdivided into tasks, aimed at each of the principal types of metal matrix composites of current engineering interest: A) Particulate reinforced metals (PRM) B) Short fibre and whisker reinforced metals (SFRM, WRM)
C) Continuous fibre reinforced
metals (CFRM) D) Monofilament reinforced metals (MFRM) The members of the present network provide a representative cross-cut of European researchers active in metal matrix composites, which also comprises expertise in each of these metal matrix composites classes and can build links with other research groups active in the field, particularly in their own country. The network will provide a centre of focus for the organization of inter-European contacts in metal matrix composites research, for the assembly of relevant databases and sources of engineering information, for the dissemination of this knowledge, and for the identification of opportunities in future research or development. Its mission is to improve the competitiveness of the European industry during the take off period of a new material penetrating the market at considerable growth rates.
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