Carbon Fiber

Podcast Link

http://techstory.libsyn.com/carbon-fiber-space-age-tech-ep-03

 

What They Are

  • Fibers of around 10 micrometers in diameter.1
  • Generally composed in majority of carbon atoms.1
  • High strength with very low weight and high tolerance to temperature.1
  • Generally Very Expensive.1

 

History

  • The first carbon fiber was probably created by Thomas Edison when he would make filaments out of carbon threads and bake them.2
  • Near the end of WWII a company known as Union Carbide began to develop a carbonized form of Rayon to replace tungsten in vacuum tubes.2
  • Many companies were attempting to create carbon fiber alternatives to existing materials, but the majority lacked the structural strength necessary for most applications.2
  • In 1958 Roger Bacon, Ph.D. discovered a way to create “perfect graphite filaments.2
  • The fibers exhibited an elastic modulus of 700 GPa.2
  • In comparison, Steels have a modulus around 200 GPa.
  • Understand that at this point they were quite expensive to produce.

 

Uses for Carbon Fibers

  • Car enthusiasts will recognize carbon fiber from super cars and various aftermarket products, and even some bodies and frames of R/C cars and drones.
  • Use in aircraft is a perfect use of the high strength per weight quality of carbon fiber.
  • Bike frames, lightweight equipment such as camera tripods.
  • The list could go on and on. Anywhere you need high strength, low weight, and have the money.

 

Moving Forward

  • As carbon fiber becomes more readily available expect it to become as ubiquitous as steel or aluminum.
  • Biggest issue is that carbon fiber, similar to fiberglass, cannot be remolded or cast once finished. Therefore, it is more expensive to manufacture components from carbon fiber when compared to plastics or metals like aluminum.

 

 

Manufacturing Overview

 

 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_fibers
  2. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/carbonfibers.html

 

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