Carbon Fiber: The New Wonder Material For Manufacturing

Carbon Fiber: The New Wonder Material For Manufacturing

Scientists have been working with carbon fiber for more than 150 years. Its first practical use was in an electric light first introduced in the 1860s. But not until recently has carbon fiber become the ‘new’ wonder material for manufacturing of all types.

So what happened? Why is carbon fiber suddenly so popular? Because manufacturing processes have improved to the point that it is now a material for the masses. If you know what you are doing and you’re willing to spend the money, you can fabricate your own carbon fiber parts at home.

Aerospace Manufacturing

Thought Co. recently ran a post describing the many ways carbon fiber is now being utilized. One of the first categories they mentioned is aerospace. The aerospace sector is the single largest consumer of carbon fiber, making up some 30% of the total volume.

Boeing’s 787 represents the largest use of carbon fiber in commercial aircraft. The Airbus A350 isn’t far behind. But commercial aviation is just the start. Carbon fiber is a big part of military aviation as well as space exploration. Carbon fiber has been to the moon and back; it will play a big role in getting human beings to Mars.

Military Applications

Behind aerospace in terms of consumption is military manufacturing. Military aircraft rely on carbon fiber for strength, rigidity, and stealth. It is used to manufacture helmets, body armor, vehicle armor, small arms, and on and on. According to Thought Co., new military applications for carbon fiber are appearing every day.

Sporting Goods

The average consumer might be most familiar with carbon fiber in the sporting goods arena, according to Rock West Composites out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The sporting goods industry has found a variety of creative ways to put it to use. They are making sports equipment stronger, lighter, and easier to use.

Carbon fiber golf clubs and tennis rackets are all the rage. So are carbon fiber bike frames, surfboards, skateboards, kayaks, canoes, and paddles. And don’t forget the carbon fiber running shoe.

Consumer Goods

Have you ever heard of the carbon fiber wallet? How about the carbon fiber laptop case and its companion cell phone case? As manufacturing methods employ more automation, larger numbers of consumer goods can be made with cost-effective carbon fiber. All sorts of consumer goods are showing up online and in brick-and-mortar retail centers.

Automotive Applications

How can we talk about carbon fiber manufacturing without talking about the automotive sector? From car bodies to interior parts, carbon fiber is gradually replacing aluminum and steel. It could be that the cars of the future have almost no metal parts at all. Some say that carbon fiber will be responsible for eventually doing away with the internal combustion engine by making electric vehicles light enough to be viable.

Medical Applications

Perhaps most exciting of all are the medical applications for the space-age material. Carbon fiber is now a preferred material for prosthetic devices ranging from artificial limbs to internal prosthetics. There is a new process that injects the carbon fiber material into a broken bone to help it more completely heal after being set.

Carbon fiber is also being used to improve medical imaging equipment. It is transparent to x-ray machines, so it can be used to help support body parts for better images.

Though this post has covered a lot, it does not even begin to scratch the surface of modern-day carbon fiber applications. This ‘new’ wonder material is actually relatively old. It is just that we are now finally figuring out how to use it to maximum advantage.

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