Carbon Fiber And Its Many Uses

Why Carbon Fiber Might Transform Engineering
Yahya S./Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Yahya S./Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Carbon fiber is a sleek composite that has excellent strength and stiffness, despite its low weight. It is extremely versatile. It can be used in many situations, from snow boards to automobiles. As its cost continues to decrease, the use is exploding. It has been around for more than 150 years, though it was very different back then. It gained recognition when Thomas Edison used it in his incandescent light bulb. Back then, they took high cellulose materials and baked them. It was phased out by tungsten wire, and it was only used in some circumstances. Now, carbon fiber is made from organic polymers. These consist of strings of molecules held together by carbon atoms. It then is chemically altered to stabilize it. Then, it is heated to an extremely high temperature to create carbon crystals. Then, it is oxidized, and finally, they are coated and wound up.

What Can Carbon Fiber Be Used For?

Automobiles- Carbon fiber has not been utilized in mass produced automobiles, as it increases the raw materials cost, and they would need different tools, but it has been used in NASCAR and Formula 1. It is used because of its immense strength and low weight, which helps make the cars faster. It has become a signal of performance and quality.

Sporting Equipment- Carbon fiber, with its low weight and extreme strength, is perfect for sports. With a lighter weight, it is easier for the athlete using the product. For example, tennis racquets use carbon fiber so that the athletes can swing faster. Carbon fiber is used in helmets, hockey sticks, fishing rods, golf clubs, bicycles, oars, surfboards, bats, and bows.

Military Gear- Carbon fiber was originally used for military purposes. It was used in ships lights instead of tungsten wire, because it could handle vibrations. Now, it is used in many things. It has immense strength, and its low weight means that it conserves energy. That is why it is used in drones, as it takes less energy to get of the ground, and it is immensely strong. It is also used in armor, and it is also used to reinforce high strength parts, like doors. Finally, it is used in weapons, such as knives and guns.

Airplanes and Aerospace- One of carbon fiber’s biggest uses is in aeronautics. It was one of the first industries to adopt carbon fiber, as it was used in jet engines back in the 1960s. It is used to replace aluminium and titanium, because of its low weight. If there is less weight, then less fuel is burned, meaning that aircraft made with carbon fiber are more efficient. By using carbon fiber instead of aluminum, it reduces weight by up to 20%, and for every 1 kilogram saved, the plane can save up to $1,000,000 in fuel. It can also be morphed into almost any shape. This means that it has improved aerodynamics. Designers can make sleek yet complex geometric structures, which can help optimize the plane. Additionally, the stiffness of carbon fiber allows a swept wing design, which can save up to %5 cost. Carbon fiber also requires fewer parts. Since it can be molded, it is built in one part, so you lower the possibility of production errors. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 XWB are the first aircraft to use a full carbon fiber body. They have produced great profits, so there are sure to be more to come.

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