Why Use Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber (also commonly called graphite) has special properties making it ideal for applications ranging from aerospace, to automobiles, to sporting goods.  When combined with resin to form a composite, it produces parts that are extremely light and rigid.  Carbon parts are lighter and stronger than their metal counterparts.  For that reason, carbon fiber is being used extensively in the race car industry.  High-end vehicles are incorporating carbon to make one piece car frames.  Perhaps the biggest user of carbon fiber is the aircraft industry, both commercial and military.  Here are the biggest users of carbon fiber.

The first is the military.


F-22 Raptor has over 350 carbon/epoxy parts
Since carbon is up to 100 times lighter than some metals, it is ideal for aircraft. The F-22 Raptor has over 350 carbon/epoxy parts. Nearly 1/3 of the Joint Strike Fighter Plane will be made of carbon and fiberglass.

Besides these two aircraft, carbon is also used for Blackhawk helicopters, body armor, helmets, holsters, and countless other military applications. These applications are on top of the already huge use of carbon in stealth technology.

The second big buyer of carbon is the Airbus company.


Airbus Superjumbo A350
The Airbus Superjumbo A 380 and A350 are built with a great deal of carbon fiber. The recently release A 380 is huge. Note the double row of windows along the whole length of the plane. It will hold over 500 passengers and has a wingspan greater than the length of a football field!
 

The third buyer is Boeing.

They are making the 787 Dreamliner. It is 50% carbon fiber and is so light that it will be able to fly from England to Austrailia without refueling.

Besides its superior performance characteristics, carbon is also used for its cosmetic beauty.  When used with clear resin, it has an extremely attractive, almost three-dimensional holographic appearance.  When other fiber reinforcements are often hidden with paint or gel coat, carbon fiber is intentionally made visible because of its high-tech look.


Boeing 787 Dreamliner

If carbon fiber is outside your budget, consider using S-2 glass. S-2 glass is a high performance fabric that was developed originally for military applications. It is 30% stronger and 15% stiffer than E-glass. It comes 30” wide in two weights: 3.7 oz. and 5.6oz. One of the big advantages of S-2 glass is that it is compatible with both polyester and epoxy resins, unlike carbon. At a fraction of the cost of carbon, this might be the solution you are looking for! Give it a try.

Whether you choose carbon or S-2 glass, or whether you need a yard or a full roll, TAP Plastics can fill your need for high performance fiber reinforcements.