Carbon fiber vs aluminum, a common choice faced by manufacturers. To make the decision easier, we put together this post to compare these two materials.
Keep reading to learn more about aluminum and carbon fiber so you can determine which will work best for the project you’re working on.
Carbon Fiber Vs Aluminum
There are a number of factors engineers need to consider when designing a project and choosing a material. Let’s look at some of those and see how carbon fiber and aluminum compare.
Rigidity refers to how much an object retains its shape even when acted upon by other forces. Carbon fiber is between two and five times more rigid than aluminum at the same thickness. The difference depends on the overall quality of the carbon fiber.
It’s also important to compare the strength of two materials which have the same thickness. Aluminum has a strength of about 500 kilonewtons compared to carbon fiber which can have up to 1600 kilonewtons of strength.
The weight of a material is particularly important when trying to make a vehicle that’s faster or more fuel-efficient. It’s particularly important for getting aircraft into the air.
Replacing the aluminum in an object with carbon fiber can reduce its weight by nearly half without compromising strength or rigidity.
Since nearly everything uses electricity to some degree, it’s important to look at how well your materials will conduct it. Aluminum is a great conductor of electricity which can make it dangerous in some applications.
Carbon fiber, on the other hand, does not conduct electricity well and can often be used as an insulator to protect against electric shocks.
As a result of exposure to weather or the heat of the engine caused by friction, a material has to resist expanding or failing under heat. Aluminum can always resist high temperatures but carbon fibers can only resist moderately-high temperatures when properly cured.
When to Use Aluminum
Despite the many advantages of carbon fiber, there are a few instances in which aluminum will work better.
You’ll most likely need to use aluminum in areas that will be exposed to large amounts of heat since carbon fiber can fail in these situations. Aluminum also conducts electricity better and should be used in applications where this is essential.
When to Choose Carbon Fiber
If you need something to be rigid, strong, and lightweight, carbon fiber is the best option. This is why it’s already being used in aircraft, vehicles, and medical and manufacturing industries.
Learn More About Using Carbon Fiber in Your Project
Now you know the difference between carbon fiber vs aluminum. As you can see, each has unique qualities but carbon fiber outperforms aluminum in the majority of the most important areas.
If you want to learn more about how we can help you incorporate carbon fiber into your manufacturing project, contact us today. We would love to help you no matter what part of the design or manufacturing process you’re in.