Why Is Carbon Fiber Used in Cars? A 101 Guide

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As we all know, metal, plastic, and monox are common materials used in cars. However, a new material, carbon fiber, is gradually stepping into the car industry. So what is carbon fiber? Is it suitable to use in cars versus traditional materials? Can it make contributions to better car performance? Let us explore carbon fiber and remove the questions together in the following passages.

What is Carbon Fiber

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Carbon fiber is a widespread material oxidized and carbonized from specific raw fiber, called precursor.

Oxidization and Carbonization are two important processes in manufacturing carbon fiber. The Precursor first goes into an oxidation oven, where fiber molecules connect each other and become a pyridine ring. Later, the carbonization process can remove the non-carbon atoms from the precursor and reorganize carbon atoms to a crystalline state with more aromatic ring layers. Carbon fiber properties are obviously improved in terms of heatproof and strength.

Their raw materials can be various. In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the first type of carbon fiber, which is based on cellulose fiber. In the1950s, Wright-Patterson invented viscose-based carbon fiber. Then, PAN-based carbon fiber and pitch-based carbon fiber were created in Japan. Nowadays, more and more materials become raw materials of carbon fiber in order to explore better properties.

According to the modulus, it can be classified into five groups: UHM, HM, IM, UHT, and HT. Most factories are used to mark their fiber base, diameters, and other key properties for easy identification.

Properties of Carbon Fiber

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Microscopically, carbon fiber is a multilayer overlapping structure made up of a hexatomic ring net. To some degree, this decides the chemical stability of carbon fiber, no matter of heat resistance, corrosion resistance, and other aspects. And, hexatomic rings are staggered between layers and layers. This special construction endows easy intercalation between layers. This polycrystal turbostratic structure makes carbon fiber strong along the axial direction. That’s why it is of high strength from the perspective of macroscopic.

High Strength

Common carbon fiber can resist 3500Mpa tensile strength. Let me take an analogy to better understand how high 3500Mpa strength is. The tensile strength of the steel bars used in the construction industry is standardly 600Mpa, which can stably support the frame of a common house. In other words, the strength of carbon fiber is five times higher than that of steel bars.

Buffering Capacity

Buffering capacity is attributed to the excellent modulus of carbon fiber.

The standard elastic modulus of carbon fiber is 200-280 GPa. Taking a type of packing materials for example, the elastic modulus of flexible foam is between 70 kPa and 700kPa, which are capable of resisting vibration and bump and well protect goods in transport. Such a million time of modulus definitely can deal with any crash in daily life.

If you are curious about how carbon fiber with top elastic modulus performs, I will turn you to spaceflight and the flight industry. With above 700GPa, they make great contributions to buffer aircraft and rockets against landing and launch, promising steady movement and experience.

Heat Resistance

All types of carbon fiber are heatproof. Even resin-based carbon fiber, which ranks at the bottom of hearproof list, can suffer 200 ℃. That means it can handle boiling water without any worries.

According to latest research, a new type of carbon fiber based on Zr and Ti can amazingly bear 2000 ℃. That means even hot fire can not damage it.

Corrosion Resistance

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Compared to metal materials, carbon fiber is more adaptable to acidity. Its elastic modulus, strength, and diameters are able to stay constant in 50% muriatic acid, vitriol, and phosphoric acid, which are considerably corrosive and can seriously burn our skin.

It can remain properties in fresh water, seawater, and rainwater for a long time. In the last two years, Subsea Craft, a famous company in the UK, has successfully developed a carbon fiber submarine ship.

Besides, rather than being oxidization, it remains chemically stabilized in high temperatures. This year, the Vaga-C VV21 rocket with carbon fiber payload cover has perfectly completed its first flight journey. In particular, the carbon fiber payload cover on the top of the rocket completely protected the satellite inside from hot air up to 1000 °C when going through the atmosphere.

Abrasive Resistance

Police helmets are made of carbon fiber, too, because of its abrasive resistance. It is worthwhile to try fiber carbon.

Low Density

The low density is a famous feature of carbon fiber. Most carbon fiber is about 1.8 grams per cubic centimeter, which is much lighter than aluminum, steel, stainless steel and carbon steel, and other popular metals.

This is also the reason why a large number of airplane companies prefer carbon fiber. The lighter the plane is, the more energy it can save. Besides, light material guarantees excellent performance in the sky.

Applications of Carbon Fiber in Cars

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The outstanding properties of carbon fiber perfectly offer strategic support to good car performance. More and more carbon fiber car parts, like car buttons, handles and other carbon fiber, appear in modern cars.

What’s more, the appearance of carbon fiber is black and grey, which is very stylish and cool. Thus, it also plays a role in car decoration design.


If you like listening to car radio, I will recommend carbon fiber antenna without any hesitation. Installed on the top of a car, antenna plays a significant role in receiving FM signal. Unfortunately, the top of a car is a place which always exposed to rain and sunshine, while the components inside the antenna are so damageable against water and heat. And, carbon fiber can solve this problem to the point. Thanks to its corrosion resistance, rain water and sunshine cannot oxidize carbon fiber. It will keep its strength to protect your car radio hardware system just as your faithful partner.

Carbon fiber rearview mirror cover is also a helpful part, which can satisfy not only driving beginners but also skilled drivers. For beginners, unexpected scrapping on the rearview mirror happens frequently. Wonderful buffering capacity and abrasive resistance of carbon fiber would bring you steady experience. For skilled drivers, having a mirror cover with great heatproof and waterproof is a good idea to save money spent on changing mirror covers.

Carbon fiber is also applied to fuel tank cover. Fuel tank cover should be tough enough to suffer unmeant rough treatment of busy clerks in petrol stations. From the perspective of safety, it should have a high ignition point so petrol burning accidents can be prevented effectively. All of these requirements are matched by the properties of carbon fiber.

Therefore, possessing carbon fiber car exterior is a beneficial option for many car factories and users.


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Inside the car, we suggest carbon fiber button design. Button is always touched by our fingernails, so I don’t think it is OK to use unqualified materials. Abrasive resistance is a necessary factor. More and more, if there is buffering capacity as carbon fiber, the sense of touch on your finger will be very soft. Even after using for a long time, there will not be any change in button shape for its high elastic modulus.

If you prefer overall decoration and design in the car, you can choose carbon fiber gear shift nob and trim. Same as the button, gear shift nob made of carbon fiber can optimize your touching experience and even driving feeling. Arranging some trims on vulnerable corners can promote the durability and visual aesthetics of the car. Last but not least, carbon fiber car interior can be cleaned by wet cloth without any worries on oxidizing it.

Steering wheel can be made of carbon fiber. Compared to conventional steer wheel, it will bring you a light experience and decorate your car with a pretty pattern in black and grey.

Other Gears

Furthermore, fiber carbon can be made into car rims. First, fiber carbon car rim is capable of buffering car compartments to ensure a comfortable driving experience. Second, due to its high strength, hear resistance, corrosion resistance, the life of car rim are greatly longer than the traditional metal rim, especially in serious field environment. Besides, its low density reduces the whole car’s weight, leading to low carbon emissions. This green design is more and more popular in new environmental-friendly cars, meeting the worldwide tide of environmental protection.

Batteries are the source of power for electric vehicles. Most car batteries are generally lithium batteries and are usually located at the bottom of the car. Thus, it requires full protection. Also, the battery should be replaced in a regular period. Therefore, the battery box should be of convenience. Exactly, carbon fiber battery box is properly meet these demands. Outstanding water resistance, corrosion resistance and aging resistance contributes to its good performance in large temperature difference and humid working environment. In this way, carbon fiber battery box provides effective protection for battery sets.

Embedding carbon fiber composite materials in the car seat frame can well meet the dual purpose of lightweight and safety. Buffering capacity will bring about a comfortable sitting experience and safety protection against accidental crashes.

When it talks to crash protection, we must refer to carbon fiber bumper and bracket. They are both capable of absorbing energy. In a high-speed collision, the bracket absorbs most of the kinetic energy, while the bumper absorbs the rest. Certainly, we recommend using them together so as to ensure a safe and pleased driving journey. 


On the one hand, carbon fiber is a six-in-one material combined buffer, strength, heatproof, waterproof, abrasive proof and light weight. On the other hand, its fashion appearance is so outstanding. It is these properties that adapt fiber carbon to car industry and lay a solid foundation for better car design in the future.

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