The first carbon fibres were produced in 1860 for use in light bulbs – but presently, the strongest demand for carbon fibre comes from the auto industry which has experienced tremendous changes in the past 10 years.
Although relatively expensive when compared with glass or plastic fibres, carbon fibres have several unique advantages – from high tensile strength to low weight, high-temperature tolerance, high chemical resistance, and low thermal expansion.
Here are 9 reasons we love carbon fibres and why they are favoured by design engineers for manufacturing supercars:
1. Carbon fibre is probably the strongest material there is.
For starters, the strongest carbon fibres are ten times as strong as steel and eight times that of aluminium. Simply put, carbon fibres are bonded together in microscopic crystals that are aligned to the axis of the fibre and this crystal alignment makes them incredibly strong. Design engineers love this stuff because it is super strong for car components, yet lightweight. Keep in mind that the lightweight property allows carbon fibre to reduce the weight of most cars by 60% when replacing steel components.
2. It looks great.
Yes, carbon fibre looks amazing – in fact, this material is basically very thin strands of carbon that can be moulded into any shape to produce components. The attractive material looks great up close or from afar, giving supercars a certain feeling of speed. Most important, carbon fibre is an exotic sporty material – your car will definitely stand out with the carbon fibre look!
3. It literally improves everything.
This material is a brilliant invention which is becoming increasingly popular. But what’s so great about carbon fibre? In what ways can this material help the auto industry? Apart from being lightweight and strong, carbon fibre offers benefits for boosting efficiency and performance. Don’t forget that a lightweight automobile tends to get much better fuel mileage simply because they can make use of a less powerful engine – in other words, reducing a car’s weight can deliver major benefits for fuel economy. Furthermore, carbon fibre allows a structure that is safe and also has good driving dynamics.
4. It’s better than steel and aluminium.
Very often engineers and designers look for materials with a unique design that will enable them to manufacture car components with a thickness identical to aluminium. Basically, aluminium and steel are materials commonly used for car components – but carbon fibres, on the other hand, provide a new solution for engineers – it offers stiffness and strength at a low density which in turn, provides many practical benefits.
5. We love it’s exceptional thermal conductivity characteristics.
Thermal conductivity is simply the ability of a material to conduct heat, therefore, different metal and non-metal materials have different thermal conductivity. Now carbon fibres have low thermal conduction characteristics – they are developed to replace other heat conducting materials like steel or aluminium.
6. And it’s thermal expansion characteristics.
Thermal expansion relates to the change in material dimension due to temperature change. Carbon fibres show nearly zero thermal expansion compared with materials like steel or aluminium. Carbon fibres have thermal expansion six times less than aluminium and more than three times less than steel.
7. It ensures long-term performance.
When the carbon composite is manufactured with the vacuum method rather than the manual roller and brush method, long service life of the carbon composite is ensured. Again, carbon fibre has corrosion resistance – which offers another long-term advantage compared to aluminium or steel.
8. Resistance to Temperature
Like aluminium, carbon fibre is a material with resistance to high temperatures. However, in some cases, carbon fibre offers no resistance to high temperatures due to the use of improper materials or improper baking. Only the right materials may be used – the right materials are costly and knowledge of how to harden in a furnace at high temperature is required.
9. Easy machining
Design engineers, in general, love the fact that carbon fibres can be easily machined once the basics are understood. Keep in mind that due to the nature of carbon fibre, it is abrasive and will wear down machining tools quickly.
Finally, carbon fibres can make cars lighter and fuel efficient while saving the planet – it’s about more than speed.
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