What is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon Fiber is

a long, thin strand of material about 0.0002-0.0004 in (0.005-0.010 mm) in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in microscopic crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber. The crystal alignment makes the fiber incredibly strong for its size.


Classifying Carbon Fiber

Carbon fibers are classified by the tensile modulus of the fiber. The English unit of measurement is pounds of force per square inch of cross-sectional area, or psi. Carbon fibers classified as “low modulus” have a tensile modulus below 34.8 million psi (240 million kPa). Other classifications, in ascending order of tensile modulus, include “standard modulus,” “intermediate modulus,” “high modulus,” and “ultrahigh modulus.” Ultrahigh modulus carbon fibers have a tensile modulus of 72.5 -145.0 million psi (500 million-1.0 billion kPa). As a comparison, steel has a tensile modulus of about 29 million psi (200 million kPa). Thus, the strongest carbon fibers are ten times stronger than steel and eight times that of aluminum, not to mention much lighter than both materials, 5 and 1.5 times respectively. Additionally, their fatigue properties are superior to all known metallic structures, and they are one of the most corrosion-resistant materials available, when coupled with the proper resins.

With carbon fiber and ZOLTEK, the future has arrived.

Commercializing Carbon Fiber

Thirty years ago, carbon fiber was a space-age material, too costly to be used in anything except aerospace. However today, carbon fiber is being used in wind turbines, automobiles, sporting goods, and many other applications. Thanks to carbon fiber manufacturers like ZOLTEK who are committed to the commercialization concept of expanding capacity, lowering costs, and growing new markets, carbon fiber has become a viable commercial product.