Strength, luxury, and versatility. These words pop into mind when people think about carbon fiber materials. Recent years have seen a boom in demand for this product. In 2021, the global production capacity for carbon fiber was about 193 thousand tons.
Although carbon fiber material cost is still higher than steel, the technology is constantly evolving. Innovation is lowering costs and making this material more accessible to different industries. There are also exciting developments in the recycling of carbon fiber material. Keep reading for an overview of current and future trends in this industry.
The Amazing Benefits of Carbon Fiber Materials
The most notable benefit of carbon fiber is its strength. It can be five to ten times stronger than steel. Combine this with how lightweight the material is, and you see why it’s attractive to manufacturers.
Although carbon fiber is so strong, it can be shaped and molded to different needs. Manufacturers do this with the use of a range of equipment and tools.
Another benefit is that carbon fiber materials do not corrode or oxidize. The core material and the epoxy resin are highly stable and non-reactive. The composite material can also tolerate high heat and chemical contact.
Also, it is transparent in x-ray imaging. This makes it the perfect material in medical settings. In addition to the physical qualities, carbon fiber also looks fantastic. Customers recognize the unique pattern and glossy finishes as a high-quality product.
An Endless Range of Applications
Carbon fiber materials are becoming common in all sorts of products. The aerospace and defense industries use about half of the carbon fiber produced. For example, the material is perfect for building strong, lightweight airplane wings.
Another common use is in cars and boats to reduce weight and improve efficiency. Carbon fiber also doesn’t need additional treatments to prevent corrosion.
In the medical industry, carbon fiber materials make x-raying patients much easier. For example, patients can be imaged through a carbon fiber operating table.
Other exciting applications include sporting goods, such as tennis rackets and bicycles.
Innovations for Sustainable Carbon Fiber Production
One area of concern is the environmental impact. The process is energy-intensive because it requires high temperatures. Also, the most common raw material is petroleum-based.
Fortunately, the industry sees frequent advances in raw materials and carbon fiber recycling. For raw materials, lignin is another option for carbon fiber manufacturers.
But, these fibers are not as strong as ones made from petroleum-based raw materials. So, these cannot be used in all applications.
Traditionally, these have been difficult to recycle, but this is changing. Experts predict that the recycled carbon fiber market will grow to $222 million by 2026. Also, carbon fiber materials tend to last longer than metal. This leads to a decreased environmental impact.
A Promising Future for Carbon Fiber
Recent years have seen impressive growth in the market. This trend will only continue with innovations in raw materials and technologies.
New applications for composite materials are found daily. The growth in recycling can lower the cost of carbon fiber materials. Even more, industries will be able to apply this material in the creation of their products.
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