What are carbon fiber composites?
Carbon fiber is a fiber material used in combination with epoxy resin to make lightweight composites that are extremely strong and rigid. It is not only the specific strength and stiffness that make carbon fiber special, but also that the mechanical properties can be different in different directions due to the orientation of the laminated fibers.
The mechanical properties of metals, for example, are the same in all directions. By matching the fiber direction to the load-bearing requirements, structures can be made lighter, stronger and more rigid. Given a good 3D design, a carbon fiber structure can be up to 40% to 70% lighter than a comparable aluminum or steel structure.
In addition to its mechanical advantages, carbon fiber has other remarkable properties. For example, it is chemically and corrosion resistant, and insensitive to temperature changes, which makes the material very dimensionally stable. Another special feature is that carbon fiber is permeable to X-rays, which is very important for medical applications, for example.
Carbon fiber composites are used in many industries because of their advantages and better performance compared to metal or aluminum. Examples can be found in aerospace, automotive and medical applications, but also in the mechanical engineering and maritime sectors carbon fiber is used.
- A low specific weight
- High strength and stiffness
- Long life span
- Low maintenance costs
- Large design freedom, allowing for many different shapes of products
- Various electrical properties (insulation, but also thermal and electrical conductivity are possible)
- Impact resistance
- High resistance to acids and other chemicals
- Weather and water resistant: the material hardly corrodes and absorbs little moisture
- Very good fatigue properties
- RAM properties (Radar Absorbing Materials)
- Good X-ray absorption, making the material almost invisible on X-ray equipment
- Possibility of integration (application of additional reinforcements or inserts)
- Very well suited for both small quantities and series production
Carbon fiber composites were initially developed for the aircraft industry. The unique combination of low weight and high strength and rigidity quickly convinced other industries to also use carbon fiber. The production of carbon fiber products often involves the use of molds, in which freedom of shape plays an important role. Complex, double-curved shapes can be made without significantly higher costs. This gives carbon fiber an important advantage over steel, aluminum or other materials.
The high dimensional stability is another characteristic of carbon fiber. The material is virtually temperature stable and does not shrink, which is of great importance in applications where shrinkage is a critical factor, such as calibration jigs and measuring devices.
CarbonWebshop is the innovative supplier of carbon fiber tubes and sheets from stock for many applications. Due to their low weight and high strength and rigidity, they are often a good replacement for steel, aluminum and titanium. Looking for an extremely strong and lightweight product? Then look no further! CarbonWebshop and Refitech have over 30 years of experience with carbon fiber composites. Would you like advice on a specific solution? Please contact us.