At the most basic level, alloys and composites can seem to be very similar. However, if you look a little closer at their characteristics, properties, and applications, there are some significant ways in which they are far from alike.Alloys versus composites
An alloy is a combination of two or more elements, with at least one of these being a metal. The different components must be precisely mixed together, with the resulting alloy being described with mass percentages. For example, the alloy INCONEL 625 presents as a composition of 58% nickel, 20-23% chromium, 8-10% molybdenum, and a maximum of 5% iron.
By contrast, whilst a composite is also essentially a combination of two or more components, it differs from an alloy in one key respect: there is no requirement for a metal to be included. Instead, composites contain a “matrix” and a “reinforcement” component, which will likely be very different in terms of their chemistry and physical makeup. Wood, for example, is a composite of a lignin matrix and cellulose fibre reinforcement.
This means that rather than creating a material that is a true mixture of its components, a composite will retain its elements as distinct from one another. This can be an effective way to create a material with advantages such as greater strength or lighter weight.
There are many versatile surface treatments that use nickel composites, for example, so to find out which type is best for your application, it always makes sense to consult a specialist such as www.poeton.co.uk/advanced-treatments/apticote-460-nickel-composites.
The advantage of creating an alloy is that the finished material will take on characteristics or properties which the individual components do not offer. This makes an alloy a great way to improve qualities such as durability, strength, and resistance to corrosion. Nickel composites, for example, are created with a high level of precision, and designed by expert engineers who can create the ideal blend of components to deliver the benefits required of the finished material.