The amount of strain hardening of a continuously reinforced 355 stainless steel-2024 aluminum composite due to tensile and flexural loadings into the plastic deformation range has been examined experimentally. Indirect indications through application of rule of mixtures formulations to experimental stress-strain data and direct observations by microhardness testing combine to show that very little strain hardening occurs in this unidirectionally reinforced system when it is loaded parallel to the wires. This observation is explained in terms of triaxial restraint of the matrix in situ in the loaded composite and by low values of strain in the composite at failure. Considerable plastic deformation of the reinforcing wire has been observed at composite fracture surfaces. In the composites tested, failure was invariably associated with debonding along diffusion bond boundaries formed during the process of fabricating the composite material. An interfacial third phase has been observed to act as a site for crack initiation.
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