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Six Things You Didn’t Know About Carbon Fiber

Because of its unmatched strength, rigidity, and resistance to abrasion, carbon fiber is one of the world’s most versatile materials and is used in a wide variety of industrial and everyday applications. Here are some things you might not know about carbon fiber:

Carbon Fiber is Stronger Than Steel

Believe it or not, carbon fiber is stronger than steel. Carbon fiber boasts a modulus of elasticity similar to steel with a much higher tensile strength. Generally, carbon fiber has a strength-to-weight ratio roughly five times that of steel and high-grade carbon fiber outperforms steel by a factor of ten. For more on carbon fiber strength, check out our previous blog.

Carbon Fiber Can be Flexible

Carbon fiber has remarkable fatigue resistance and while carbon fiber’s best attribute is and will always be structural rigidity, it can also become flexible when combined with the right resin. In this flexible state, carbon fiber is commonly used in veneers and other strictly aesthetic applications.

Fake Carbon Fiber Exists

For components that are strictly aesthetic, it’s not uncommon for the “look” of carbon fiber to be printed onto plastic or fabric. However, there’s an easy way to spot real carbon fiber if you look closely enough. If you see tiny strands woven together, you’re looking at the real thing.

There is More to Composites than Carbon Fiber

While carbon fiber has exceptional tensile properties even in its pure fiber form, most any carbon fiber used in industrial or practical applications requires a resin matrix in order to achieve its signature rigidity and strength.

Carbon Fiber is Older Than You Thought

The first “carbon fibers” were developed in the 1860s and used as filaments for incandescent light bulbs due to their high resistance to heat. However the industrial grade carbon fiber material wouldn’t come around until almost 100 years later in 1958. It would be another five years before the carbon fiber development process would be refined for manufacturing purposes.

Carbon Fiber is Everywhere

Because of its high rigidity and strength-to-weight ratios, carbon fiber is used in a wide variety of industrial and everyday applications including: aerospace components, automotive components, bicycles, military applications, medical components, musical instruments, golf clubs, snowboards, tennis rackets, skis, wind turbine blades, and more!

At Zoltek, we offer a wide variety of carbon fiber products for a range of applications and our carbon fiber experts are here to help you find the material that is right for you. For more carbon fiber facts, or to learn which Zoltek product(s) might be right for your needs, visit our carbon fiber products page.