Carbon Fibre

How is Carbon Fibre made?

Carbon fibre and Carbon fibre fabric are made from bulk amounts of staple or filament strands of Carbon or Graphite.

Carbon Fibre Manufacture

Carbon fibre is made by charring synthetic polymer fibres made from Polyacrylonitrile or PAN. This is done using a thermal or oxidisation process. Carbon monofilament is then made up of many long thin sheets of Carbon molecules. Once the Carbon fibre has been spun into filaments, chemical and mechanical processes are used to initially line up the polymer atoms and enhance the physical properties of the Carbon filaments. After drawing or spinning, the Carbon filaments are then heated to get rid of any non-carbon atoms. The Carbon filaments may then be treated with a number of finishing agents to improve their handling qualities. These are then woven onto bobbins ready for making into fabrics.

Carbon fibres are usually combined with other materials to form a composite. To make a fabric the spools of carbon fibre yarn are taken to the weaving room and woven into fabrics. The most common weaves are plain weave and twill weave. Both of these weaves have the same amount of Carbon fibre going in both directions. This means that their strengths are very similar, it is purely the physical appearance that is different.

Carbon fibres can also be combined with a resin to create a waterproof coating for other materials. This is used extensively on wood when boats are built to keep it watertight.

Properties of Carbon Fibre

  • High Tensile strength
  • High Stiffness
  • Low weight
  • High Chemical resistance
  • Can tolerate high temperatures
  • Low thermal expansion
  • Relatively expensive compared to similar fibres
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • Anti-static
  • Reflects Heat

End uses of Carbon Fibre

  • Aerospace
  • Civil engineering
  • Military
  • Motorsports
  • Competition Sports
  • Surfacing
  • Automotive Parts
  • Sealing Tape
  • Tripods
  • Fishing Rods
  • Frames for tennis racquets
  • Musical Instruments

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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