4.2 The meaning of composite fibrous materials
The main application area of Asbestos is currently in the area of composite fibrous materials. These are materials in which fibers are bedded in an unorganized form in a continual matrix of a second material. Such composite materials combine the mechanical properties of fibers, such as the high tensile strength, in an ideal way with the properties of the matrix (anisotropic properties, pressure resistance, easy manufacturing). The basic prerequisite for the manufacturing of a composite fibrous material is a good bonding between the individual fibers and the material of the continual matrix, so that the tension in the material is conveyed to the fibers, thereby ensuring that their mechanical properties are usable.
The great advantage of Asbestos is that it occurs in nature in fine fibers and does not have to be manufactured in extensive processes - such as in the case of glass fibers. Furthermore, Asbestos fibers adhere well to cement, so that there is a conveyance of the tensions in Asbestos cement to the fibrous portion. These properties, as well as the high thermal stability, the electrical properties and the low price, have led to a wide spread of Asbestos containing materials and insulation materials in the building construction area.
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