Without getting too deep, we need to first explain what a Metal Matrix Composite is before we can even begin to talk about their current uses and wide open future in the world of automotive performance and racing.
For all of practical history, it has always been “bigger must be better” thinking, however, when it comes to material science, technology has proven that ageold axiom to be wrong. In the pursuit of light and strong nearly 50 years ago, Aluminum Metal Matrix Composites (AlMMCs) were initially developed primarily for aerospace components. These early efforts resulted in the deployment of metal matrix composites (MMC) tubes for the main truss in the Space Shuttle because of the extremely high compressive strength of these composites. MMC is composite material with at least two constituent parts, one being a metal and the other either a different metal or another material such as a ceramic or organic compound.
Later, work was conducted on graphite fibers in aluminum matrices such as 6061 and 201 aluminum alloys. This work resulted in deployment on the high gain antennae waveguide-booms for the Hubble Space Telescope due to the zero longitudinal thermal expansion coefficient of these composites, giving rise to extremely high pointing accuracy for the high gain antennae.
Aluminum matrix composites with lower properties but more commercial applications were developed next. Silicon carbide particle reinforced aluminum composites have been successfully used for fuel access covers for the F-16 fighter (pictured above) because the higher stiffness of the aluminum matrix composite allows the covers to share load with the aircraft structure and reduce the fatigue cracking at the corners of the access ports. Read more of this article. Just click on the digital feature below this introduction.
Read more stories like this at www.rpmmag.com