Did you know that carbon fiber technology was invented in the 1870s? Thomas Edison used it for the filament in his lightbulbs, a big difference in the applications we now have today. As the technology evolved in the last few decades, so has our ability to build new things.
From space exploration to golf swings, carbon material has granted lighter, stronger, and more durable tools. There are many carbon-fiber technology facts you probably don’t know.
Furthermore, here are eight facts you may not have known.
1. Not Pure Carbon
This material is found on cars, in buildings, or in electronics is a group of various materials. Itself is very brittle and hard to work with. It’s characteristics quickly change when resin or polymer gets added for reinforcement.
This isn’t the same as carbon nanotubes, which are exponentially more expensive and stronger than carbon fibers. Carbon nanotubes cannot be mass-produced fast enough to become a viable material, but they used to say the same thing about carbon fiber.
Technology continues to surprise us in scale and utility, the fiber industry has plenty of room to grow in both respects.
2. Most Raw Carbon Comes Outsourced
The production, like countless others, comes from Chinese and Japanese manufacturers. Making this material can be much more complicated than producing sheet metal, aluminum, plastics, or any other material. Only half a dozen or so companies have the technology to mass-produce it.
3. Stiff and Flexible
You get the best of both worlds when it comes to carbon fiber technology. This material can get made to be very stiff or very flexible. How carbon fiber gets weaved plays a part in its pliability.
To increase flexibility, high temperatures become applied. As a result, carbon fibers will return to a very strong and stiff state.
4. Carbon Fiber is Everywhere!
Carbon fiber products are gimmicked or reserved only for the rich when mass-produced to the public. Golf clubs and F1 cars seemed to limit our imaginations. The truth is, carbon fiber has a ton of capabilities and applications.
Starting with the biggest stage of importance, carbon fiber has allowed astronauts to walk on the moon. It has made aircraft, helicopters, and vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient. Allowing rescue vehicles to operate faster and go farther to where needed.
Car collectors will attest to the beauty of carbon fiber paneling, spoilers, roofs, and hoods. This has reinforced parts of cars that were notoriously easy to damage, highlighting the shortcomings of fiberglass, sheet metal, and etc. Carbon fiber is now a staple in BMW, Tesla, and other luxury auto manufacturers.
The healthcare industry uses carbon fiber to enhance the lives of patients and medical professionals. It offers strong, lightweight, and sterile options for medical equipment. Prosthetics have evolved to a new level of durability and flexibility, thanks to carbon fiber.
Not only that, carbon fiber limbs look pretty freakin’ cool, especially compared to their primitive predecessors.
5. Products Will Outlive Us
Okay, there are plenty of materials out there that will outlive us. It still doesn’t take away from the fact that carbon fiber materials can last forever. The cost of time and money to make carbon fiber material suddenly makes more sense.
This isn’t another plastic or rubber derivative, it’s not susceptible to the same wear and tear. All carbon fiber products have a special UV coating that prevents degradation, unlike those other materials. When you buy something made out of the material, the rate of depreciation is notably much slower than its counterparts.
6. Petroleum is a Key Ingredient
A byproduct of crude oil, petroleum is used in a number of different products. To clarify, waste products get developed into other things out of necessity. Carbon fibers are one part of petroleum, one part rayon, and the remaining 90% is polyacrylonitrile.
Petroleum and rayon act as polymers that bond the carbon atoms together in strong layers. For example, long strings of carbon atoms are weaved through various structures, producing desired levels of flexibility and strength. There is the standard plain weave, twill weave, harness satin, and some proprietary patterns.
Each weave pattern has its own strengths and weaknesses for certain applications. Different resins also determine different properties of durability and flexibility.
7. Damaged Carbon Is Recoverable
When you see an F1 car get into a wreck, the first thing you’ll see is the body crumples and rips. The damage looks impossible to recover or repair, but that’s not always true. Depending on the size of the pieces and the location of the damage, they can see new life.
Unfortunately, the material can not be accessible without special tools and materials. At least, not for a complete restoration of its former strength and integrity. You can find DIY repairs using epoxy blends to repair things like bike frames or carbon fiber parts.
More Carbon Fiber Solutions
This material can be extremely resilient and multi-faceted. It changes the way we look at the future of major industries and human progress.
Everything has to be lighter, faster, and stronger to expand beyond current limitations. At SMI Composites, we know how transformative it is to both common and uncommon products. Furthermore, if you’re interested in learning more about how you can benefit from this next level in manufacturing, contact us today.
With our experience in multiple manufacturing industries, we can help you reach a new level of execution, presentation, and performance.