Sometimes referred to as "carbon fibre" in publications using British spelling, carbon fiber materials employ graphite or other sources of carbon to help strengthen composites. Nano-engineers have assisted in the development of a range of innovative products utilizing carbon fibers in combination with polymers, ceramics, and metal as constituents. These fibers sometimes appear woven into fabrics.
Manufacturing Carbon Fiber
Today, the manufacturing of many specialized carbon fiber materials remains largely proprietary. The field of nanotechnology has undergone explosive growth during recent years as scientists have learned to engineer materials on a microscopic level. Carbon fiber technology relies extensively upon nanotechnology. This field has grown into a multibillion dollar industry since 2005.
Some metal parts manufacturers combine carbon fiber products in components to add additional strength and corrosion resistance. Fabrics woven from carbon fiber offer stiffness, and strength. Carbon fibers will bond tightly with ceramics, plastics or other material to create a wide array of durable, long lasting and comparatively light weight items.
A variety of chemical and physical processes contribute to the production of different carbon fiber items on the commercial marketplace today. In most cases, manufacturing carbon fibers reportedly requires at least five steps: spinning, stabilizing, carbonizing, surface treatment applications and sizing. However, the specific processes involved may vary widely, making broad generalizations impossible.
Reportedly, both the synthetic resin polyacrylonitrile and gelatinous pitch from coal tar or petroleum frequently serve as precursors in some modern carbon fiber products. Manufacturers use various chemical and mechanical processes to align carbon atoms (mainly) in long filaments which they wind to form strong fibers between 5 and 10 micrometers in diameter. They stretch this material.
The carbon atoms in the filaments have bonded together on a molecular level. Carbon fiber manufacturers refine their products to eliminate impurities, reportedly in most cases with the assistance of temperature-controlled environments. Heat may promote desired chemical reactions. Further mechanical manipulations may also occur during this step.
Carbonizing occurs with the assistance of exceedingly high temperatures and the use of specific gases. Since proprietary processes sometimes differ, variations likely occur during the carbonizing process depending upon the needs of the manufacturer.
Performing Surface Treatments
Both individual precursors and specific mechanical processes may vary between one manufacturing facility and another, based upon the proprietary system used to generate the carbon fiber constituents in commercial products. Ongoing research in this field continues to produce new strong carbon fibers for eventual commercial use. In most cases, manufacturers likely apply protective surface coatings to finished carbon fiber materials.
The final step in manufacturing carbon fibers involves cutting the carbon fibers into desired dimensions for use in specific products after applying additional desired coatings to the fibers. The manufacturer will organize the carbon fibers into a more usable form for the production of fabrics or other products. For example, some companies load the carbon fibers onto large industrial bobbins before performing fabric manufacturing.
Carbon Fiber Classifications
Some sources classify carbon fibers using the same pounds of pressure per square inch measurement system applied to the classification of liquids or gases held or ejected under pressure. In the case of carbon fibers, the tensile modulus of carbon fibers as a capability to withstand breaking during pulling permits categorization from a "low" to an "ultrahigh" tensile modulus. These parameters indicate manufacturers do not create all carbon fibers with equal strength.
Applications For Carbon Fiber
Today, carbon fibers have found widespread use in many industries. This strong, comparatively lightweight composite material initially received attention primarily from military and aerospace manufacturers. Conceivably, carbon fibers may contribute to components within spacecraft, aircraft, satellites, weapons systems and armor. Obviously, many of its applications probably remain beyond the scope of public knowledge.
During recent years, many other industries have begun utilizing carbon fiber products. They include the energy industry, the transportation industry, and the consumer goods industry. For example, some windmill produces employ carbon fiber reinforced blades on large wind turbines to help generate energy from wind power. Several auto makers have also begun using carbon fiber materials to help produce strong yet lightweight vehicle bodies. Carbon fibers have even penetrated the commercial consumer goods section; today some manufacturers advertise carbon fiber components in their cookware. Bunty LLC helps customers use carbon fiber constituents in a variety of metal parts and consumer goods.
Advantages of Using Carbon Fiber
Carbon fiber products provide manufacturers with an important set of advantages.
- Products made from this material will demonstrate excellent tensile strength in some situations. They offer protection against penetrating projectiles when used in body armor, for example.
- Carbon fibers utilize an inexpensive, readily available element. Manufacturers can locate carbon from a wide variety of sources. Although the manufacturing processes required to generate carbon fibers still apparently requires significant capital investments, the cost of this material may eventually fall in price.
- Carbon fibers offer some weight advantages. This factor may reduce the costs associated with transporting them. As components within assembled products, carbon fibers add extra strength without imposing bulk and weight.
- Treated carbon fibers may furnish excellent resistance against corrosion. Yet in some harsh environments, treated carbon fibers may represent an excellent choice for certain parts.
- Woven carbon fibers reportedly won't lose dimensional integrity when exposed to high temperatures. Ceramic carbon fiber composites conduct heat without losing shape, for instance. The applicable coefficients of thermal expansion offer benefits to manufacturers.