Composite materials tend to become key materials to support technological advances in an increasing number of industrial areas. Striking examples of breakthroughs based on composite utilization can now be found in rail and sea transport technologies or in building and civil engineering. Obviously, composites receive more and more attention from industry because their basic features and potentialities are gradually better understood and improved cost effective manufacturing processes are emerging. Moreover, the diffusion of integrated design and manufacturing techniques is strongly favorable to the use of composites since effective design with composites basically requires an integrated approach.

The keywords of ICCM-12 are 'Composites : from process to product' to emphasize the strong relationship between the materials, the process and the performances and quality of the final product. Those keywords might have been 'Composites : from cradle to grave' because products design and manufacturing must make use of life-cycle approaches taking account of the rising social demand for environmental care and materials recycling.

In response to these actual challenges, ICCM-12 gives a broad and updated snapshot of all major scientific and technological topics related to composite analysis, design and manufacturing and therefore encourages both specialist dialogues and fields interactions. As all the previous ICCM issues, ICCM-12 will provide a unique opportunity to engineers and researchers to set up more efficient strategies to go ahead in composite sciences and engineering.

Over 1000 abstracts have been submitted to ICCM-12 from 50 countries. The 20 members of the local scientific committee and 200 international referees have reviewed the extended abstracts, each abstract being peer reviewed at least twice, and have finally selected for presentation and publication in the proceedings approximately 820 papers, among which 640 are oral presentations and 180 posters. The selection procedure has been carried out with rigor to maintain the high scientific level of the conference that must be regarded as a reference congress in the composite domain. The scientific committee, referring to the experts reports, rated as keynote lectures around 45 papers which offer quite stimulating future prospects in the major fields covered by the conference. The papers are divided into 25 scientific and technological sessions and the conference CD-ROM will greatly facilitate any paper quest based on keywords. Following the successful experience of ICCM11 in Australia, CD-ROM is used for the second time to record ICCM proceedings and assist any reader in finding relevant information through the huge amount of international results. We expect that next ICCM issues will go ahead and explore new user-friendly multi-media opportunities to ensure a more effective information retrieval system of the scientific results in supporting the diffusion of composite materials in new technology areas.

Around 20% of the papers cover Metal Matrix Composites, Ceramic Matrix Composites and Cement Matrix Composites. The 80% other papers deal with Polymer Matrix Composites and it is worth to notice that 10% of them deal with processing methods, mainly RTM process, and joining, and 5% deal with textile reinforcement for composites and pre-forms. Mechanical properties of materials and structures is the major theme for around 30% of the Polymer Matrix Composites papers and still few papers deal with physical or combined physical and mechanical properties or environmental concerns.

All the papers presented at the conference are published in the Book of Abstracts in the form of extended abstracts and all papers which met the requirements for electronic publication are included on the CD-ROM.

Alain Vautrin

July 1999

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