Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) can be broken down into two major classes: discontinuously reinforced and continuously reinforced. Discontinuously reinforced CMCs consist of a matrix phase (typically alumina or silicon nitride) to which a reinforcing phase (such as silicon carbide particles, platelets or whiskers) is added. This type of CMC is in the early stage of commercialization in applications where wear is a major issue such as cutting tools and extrusion dies.

Continuous fiber reinforced CMCs consist of an array of continuous ceramic fibers, either uniaxially arrayed, multi-axially arrayed, or woven as a cloth, that are embedded in a ceramic or glass matrix. This type of CMC is currently at the pre-commercial development/application demonstration stage for applications where high temperatures and high stresses occur. Such applications include gas turbine components and heat exchangers.

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