In our daily life, We have often heard of carbon fiber, which is both familiar and unfamiliar. It is a kind of high-performance material, which has been widely used in various fields of military and civil industry. It is considered as the typical representative of new industrial materials in the high-tech field, and is called the king of materials.
Then this paper will popularize the characteristics and wide application of carbon fiber to readers.
What is Carbon Fiber？
Carbon fiber is a kind of microcrystalline graphite material, which is made of organic fiber by carbonization and graphitization. The microstructure of carbon fiber is similar to that of artificial graphite, which is a random-layer graphite structure. Carbon fiber refers to inorganic polymer fiber with a carbon content higher than 90%. It has the characteristics of lightweight, high strength, high-temperature resistance, fatigue resistance, corrosion resistance, heat conduction, and conductivity, and is a new material with excellent mechanical properties.
Properties of Carbon Fiber
Source: Microsoft Bing
To make use of carbon fiber materials, it is necessary to know the characteristics of carbon fiber first, so as to better apply this new material in production practice. The main characteristics of carbon fiber are as follows:
Carbon fiber‘s tensile strength can reach 3000~4000MPa, which is more than 4 times larger than steel and 6 or 7 times higher than aluminum.
High Elastic Modulus
Its elastic modulus is above 230GPa.
Light yet Strong
Low density and high specific strength. The mass of carbon fiber is 1/4 of steel and 1/2 of aluminum alloy; The specific strength is 16 times greater than that of steel and 12 times greater than aluminum alloy.
Excellent Heat/Cold Resistance
It can withstand ultra-high temperatures. Carbon fiber can be used at 2000℃, and will not melt or soften under the high temperature of 3000℃.
Good at low-temperature resistance. At -180℃, steel will become more brittle than glass, while carbon fiber is still very soft.
Good at acid resistance, oil resistance, and corrosion resistance. It can resist the attack of concentrated hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, sulfuric acid, benzene, acetone, and other media. If the carbon fiber is placed in 50% hydrochloric acid and its elastic modulus, strength, and diameter basically remain unchanged.
Through the obvious data advantages, it can be seen that the carbon fiber is better than titanium, steel, aluminum and other metal materials. Therefore, in just a few years, carbon fiber is considered as an exotic and expensive material for manufacturing products. Its many amazing characteristics make it an ideal choice for various applications. Now, it can be found in many aspects of our daily life. Some of its many applications will be discussed below.
At present, the materials used in car accessories are mainly high-strength steel, aluminum alloy, magnesium alloy, titanium alloy, glass fiber composite, carbon fiber composite, etc. Carbon fiber parts have great advantages in lightweight, safety, comfort, reliability, and improving the level of car development.
- After carbon fiber car interior is applied to automobiles, the most obvious benefit to automobile manufacturing is the lightweight of automobiles, and the most direct impact is the improvement of energy saving, acceleration, and braking performance. In other words, automobiles become lighter, faster, and more fuel-efficient.
- The carbon fiber car exterior has an excellent energy absorption rate. The collision energy absorption capacity is six to seven times that of steel and three to four times that of aluminum, which further ensures the safety of the car.
- Carbon fiber accessories have higher fatigue strength. The fatigue strength of steel and aluminum is 30% to 50% of the tensile strength, while carbon fiber accessories can reach 70% to 80%. Therefore, the application of carbon fiber composites in automobiles has greatly improved the fatigue reliability of materials.
At present, automotives are the most widely used parts of carbon fiber accessories in automobiles, such as hoods, frames, roof frames and stiffeners, pillars, doors, spoilers, and other components.
In a sense, modern competitive sports are a sport that challenges the limits of human physical ability. The higher the specific strength of carbon fiber accessories, the smaller the self-weight of components. Therefore, making full use of the characteristics of carbon fiber accessories can improve the performance of many sports equipment.
1. Pole vault.
At present, the latest carbon fiber pole can ensure that the pole is flexible and strong without breaking or kinking. It can convert the kinetic energy of the athlete’s fast approach with the pole into the elastic deformation energy of the pole. When the pole is bent to the maximum arc, this elastic deformation energy will be released again and transformed into the potential energy of the athlete, helping the athlete to jump in the air and fly over the pole.
The golf club is composed of a grip, a club body and a club head. The weight of the golf club made of carbon fiber composite materials can be reduced by about 10%~40%. When the total weight of the golf club is fixed, the light head weight is convenient for improving the swing speed, and the ball can obtain a larger initial speed. In addition, carbon fiber composites have high damping characteristics, which can prolong the hitting time and make the ball hit farther.
3. Tennis Rackets
The development trend of tennis rackets is large-scale and lightweight. At present, most of the high and middle tennis rackets in the world are made of carbon fiber composites. The large tennis racket needs to be made of carbon fiber composite materials with lightweight, high specific strength, and large specific modulus. It can withstand stronger wire tension than the wooden racket frame to ensure that it will not deform when hitting.
In addition to the above several sports equipment, there are many other sports equipment using carbon fiber as the production component. In a word, the carbon brazing dimension will only be used more and more widely in the sports industry.
As early as the mid-1960s, the deck room on the patrol gunboat began to use carbon fiber accessories. In the early 1970s, the superstructure of the mine hunting boat also began to use carbon fiber composites. At present, the military applications of carbon fiber are as follows：
The development of the space industry is penny-pinching. For example, if the mass of solid rocket motor is reduced by 1kg, the range can be increased by 16km. Therefore, carbon fiber composites are widely used in the engine housings of aircraft. In the future, carbon fiber is an important foundation for the development of advanced strategic weapons and equipment with miniaturization, high mobility, high precision, and high penetration capability.
The carbon fiber military box is applicable to the storage of training equipment, instruments, and equipment, small equipment, emergency supplies, outdoor operations, etc. Its surface uses carbon fiber board as the skin, which is stable and durable in structure and can ensure that the box has good sealing, high toughness, high resilience, and the ability to resist compression deformation. It is suitable for various harsh environments, such as desert, navigation, and aviation, plateau, etc.
It is believed that with the development and progress of science and technology, carbon fiber composites will be more widely used in the military field.
The latest development in 3D printing technology enables companies to use carbon fiber for printing, although the adhesive material used is different from the standard carbon fiber process. There are currently two carbon fiber printing methods:
- Chopped carbon fibers are basically reinforcements of standard thermoplastics. It allows companies to print generally weaker materials at higher strength. Chopped fibers increase the strength and stiffness of the model, and improve the dimensional stability, surface finish, and accuracy. However, some chopped fiber-reinforced filaments emphasize strength by adjusting the supersaturation of the material with fibers. This will have a negative impact on the overall quality of the workpiece, thus reducing the surface quality and part accuracy, so it will give birth to another printing technology.
- Continuous carbon fiber is an economical and effective solution, which can replace traditional metal parts with 3D printed composite parts because it can achieve similar strength with only a small part of the weight. It not only increases the strength but also provides users with selective reinforcement in areas requiring higher durability.
Oil & Gas Industry
Oil and gas is called the “blood of industry”, from which we can see the importance of oil and gas to industry, which also determines the high value of oil and gas. The facilities for oil or gas exploitation on land use steel as the main material, but the environment for exploiting offshore oil fields is very different from that on land. Advanced composite materials, mainly carbon fiber composites, can well adapt to the harsh marine environment.
- The production well pipe is a component extending from the seabed to the drilling platform deck, and most of the pipes are 10.5 in diameter. When the rising pipe is made of carbon fiber and glass fiber hybrid composite materials, compared with the stainless steel pipe, the effective weight per meter is 45kg lighter, and the weight of 1200m can be reduced by 54t, greatly reducing the cost of the buoyancy body.
- The cost of steel rope has become very large, and it needs to be replaced by comptethers, a carbon fiber composite rope. At the same time, comptethers is soft and can be coiled on a shaft with a diameter of 4.4m. It is very convenient to store, transport and use, which can reduce the project cost.
- Carbon fiber can be used to manufacture buoyancy modules for reinforcing small-diameter hollow spheres. In order to exploit oil and petroleum gas under 5000~10000f deep sea, the demand for such buoyancy components and casings is growing, and a large amount of carbon fiber is required.
To sum up, carbon fiber composites have been used in drilling pipes, ropes, and buoyancy components. With the transfer and opening of offshore oil fields to deep-sea oil fields, consumption is increasing day by day. Obviously, the development of deep-sea oil fields will be one of the largest potential markets for carbon fiber applications.
By now, you should have a certain understanding of the super capabilities of carbon fiber and its application. Although it has been used for decades, carbon fiber is still considered to be the most cutting-edge material, so if you are considering carbon fiber as one of the components of your product, I hope this article can give you some inspiration.