If we had to choose a single superpower, it would be to have all the traits of carbon fiber. It’s one of the elemental gods we have here on earth, along with fire, water, earth, and air. In fact, those other elements that have been around since the dawn of time are seriously rivaled by the power of carbon fiber.
Over the last 70 years, this hardcore, workhorse of material has built quite a reputation for itself. For instance, with its seemingly endless scope of application, a variety of types of carbon fiber products have found their way onto the market. Here we’ve compiled a short synopsis of this substance’s epic resume.
What Is Carbon Fiber?
Also known as graphite fiber or carbon graphite, carbon fiber is made of ultra-thin strands of carbon. Each strand has a diameter of 5 to 10 microns. For comparison, a single strand of a spider’s web is approximately 3 to 8 microns. One micron is 0.000039 inches.
These long strands of carbon fiber weave together in tightly interlocking chains of carbon atoms in a crystalline structure invisible to the human eye. The most common raw material used to make carbon fiber is polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and accounts for 90% of production.
Although its carbon content is similar to steel, carbon fiber is actually five times stronger, twice as stiff, seven times more stretch resistant, AND it weighs less.
It never rusts, can withstand immense heat, is chemical resistant, and doesn’t collapse from prolonged fatigue. These impressive traits make it the perfect candidate for a host of applications.
Types of Carbon Fiber Applications
With a resume like that, you could probably get a job anywhere too. To clarify, here’s a quick overview of the different types of carbon fiber applications you’ll see today.
Apparently, carbon fiber composites could cut passenger vehicle weight in half and increase fuel efficiency by approximately 35% without affecting safety or performance. This could save over $5000 in gas over the course of the car’s lifespan.
Carbon fiber is being used more and more in the reinforcement of medical equipment as we speak. From radiological instruments to orthopedics, its lightweight, super-strength, and anti-corrosion abilities make it an ideal material for the medical industry.
Sports and Recreational Equipment
Carbon fiber has paved the way for more lightweight, durable sporting goods. For example, some types of carbon fiber products that are showing up are helmets, bicycles, hockey sticks, tennis racquets, and archery bows and arrows.
Not the weapon kind. Carbon fiber manufacturing has even found a place in wind turbine and propeller blades. For wind turbines, this spells out a bright future because lighter blades equal greater efficiency.
Carbon fiber is undoubtedly the best material available for manufacturing anything in the aerospace industry and its usage is only growing. Therefore, his is due to the aforementioned reasons like structural capacity, heat resistance, lightweight, and more.
Let’s keep adding to the above carbon fiber applications. It’s also used in military protective equipment, weapons, and drones (wings especially), knives, workboots, hardhats, watches, canoes, musical instruments, and building supplies such as trusses and structural beams. So, we could even say “and more” again.
Into the Future
Despite being used for decades, carbon fiber is still considered cutting edge. Its extensive list of super abilities will only serve to expand its many avenues of application. It is the present and the future.
At SMI, we are well versed in everything carbon fiber. So, contact us today and we can help you find the right types of carbon fiber products for your professional needs.