- Transparent and strong, they insulate against heat and allow light to pass through, making glass the ideal material for making windows.
- Glass ceramics are also more durable than other materials hence they better suited for use in windows than plastic.
- Hardened material that resists compressive forces.
- Allows bricks to be used to build walls which withstand the weight and pressure of the material bearing downwards on itself.
- Poor conductors of heat and electricity, hence they are good thermal and electrical insulators.
- These properties are extremely useful for insulating electrical wiring as they prevent electric shocks and overheating.
The polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is commonly used to insulate electrical wiring
- Properties depend on the reinforcement and matrix used.
- So composites can be tailor engineered to meet specific needs.
- Carbon fibres for example are extremely strong and low weight, hence they are used in aviation, aeronautics and for making professional racing bicycles.
- Steel reinforced concrete has immense tensile and compressive strength allowing it to be used as columns and supporting structures in construction.
Diagram showing a concrete beam which is reinforced with steel, providing much more tensile strength
- Metals are used extensively in electrical cabling and in electronics due to their ability to conduct electricity.
- Copper is the most frequently used as it is a good conductor and is very malleable and easy to thread into cables.
- Polymers, composites and ceramics are unsuited for this purpose as they are poor conductors.
- Aluminium is a very strong metal but is also very light.
- This makes it ideal for use in the construction of airplanes as it has a high strength-to-weight ratio.