Carbon fiber is comprised of thousands to millions of carbon atom fiber which has a diameter of only five to ten micrometers and then bundle together in an asymmetrical and parallel design to form the carbon fiber fabric (also known as the carbon fiber sheet or composite). The carbon fiber fabric normally comes in a standard weight of 1k, 3k, 6k, and 12k. A 3k fabric has 3000 strands of carbon per tow, whereas a 12k fabric has 12000 strands per tow. A larger number represents more high-strength fibers combined together and so a higher level of strength. Carbon Fiber was originally created to be used for the aviation industry and it has becoming popular to be used in the automotive industry, robotics, and other industrial applications due to its special characteristics. Carbon fiber is one of the strongest materials in today's market, it has a strength of around five times stronger than steel, yet has only one-third of its weight. These features made it become the best material for the aerospace industry. It is rigid, high tensile strength, strong tolerance to temperature, chemical resistance, thermal expansion. They are different types of carbon fiber available for multiple applications for different industries.
In order to make the carbon fiber into the desired shape such as the aero piece or other parts and accessories, there is necessary to add resin to the carbon fabric in a perfect ratio, then molded and heated together at a high temperature to form a rigid and strong product. With the use of resins in carbon fiber, it is becoming highly corrosion resistant and UV resistant. The carbon fiber fabric also suitable to be used as medical equipment, medical imaging, gamma-ray, and x-ray applications due to its characteristic of Radiolucence, which means that it is transparent to radiation and x-ray, allow them to pass through, It also has an excellent electricity conduction function. Another common application of carbon fiber can be found in sports equipment such as tennis rackets, archery arrows, bikes, hockey sticks, and many more. The material of these sports equipment required to be strong and in a lighter weight in order to be played and performed at a fast speed.
However, carbon fiber fabric will still crack if under compressed, hit, or pushed which exceeds its acceptable capability of strength. The areas where consisting of holes or machining before also will become weaker and have a higher possibility of cracking. In terms of costing, due to its high quality and functionality, it has relatively high prices in the current market. The manufacturing process of carbon fiber fabric is complicated and has involved many procedures which are oxidation, carbonizing and treating of the strands. If any errors happened in one of the procedure, it will result in an inferior product. Its manufacturing process also requires advanced technology or equipment to perform which may lead to a higher production cost. Another disadvantage of carbon fiber is its high repair cost. The damaged fiber cannot be fully repaired due to its complex structure and the whole piece will become unusable.
A different number of layers of the carbon fiber and weave can create different levels of strength and weight to match the requirements of the end product. Carbon fiber fabric has a variety of weave which possess different strength properties. The most common type is known as twill weave, plain weave, harness satin weave, and unidirectional.
Twill weave is the most common type of carbon fiber fabric and it has 2x2 and 4x4 patterns. The pattern of 2x2 consists of each tow passes under two tows and over two tows, whereas the 4x4 pattern will pass under four tows and over four tows. For the twill weave, we can easily see the distinct diagonal pattern from far away. The distance between the interweaving tows in the twill weave is larger than the plain weave. Therefore, we can found lesser crimps occur in twill weave than plain weave. Twill weave also can be work with complex contours and create high stability. The 2x2 twill weave is the most common type of carbon fiber fabric to be widely used in the automotive industry. Formula 1 or other high-end cars are using carbon fiber, which is not merely due to its weight but also due to its distinctive looks. In comparison, 4x4 fabric has less fabric stability than 2x2, but it is easier to form in desired shapes.
Plain weave (1x1 weave) is a second commonly used type of carbon fabric in the automotive industry. The 1x1 weave means that the tow is interweaving one up and one down, make it looks like a small checkerboard pattern. Since there is a short space between the interweaving tows, it provides very high fabric stability which can maintain the weave angle and fiber orientation. But it becomes not flexible and hard to work well with complex contours in comparison with other types of weave. It can only work well for tubes or flat sheets. Since it has a very small and tighter surface pattern which made it a better appearance look and the weave is not easily been noticed. Both plain and twill weaves can offer a uniform strength in multiple directions.
Harness Satin Weave can provide a smooth and seamless surface for the carbon fabric. It offers less stability and can be easily formed for complex contours as well. The most common types of satin weaves are four harness satin, five harness satin, and eight harness satin. Four harness satin consists of each tow passes under three tows and over one tow, the same applies to another two types.
Unidirectional carbon fiber fabric is non-woven and all fibers are oriented towards a single direction. There is no cross-section weave and no gaps between the fibers. It is very strong in one direction of fiber but weak in the opposite direction. This type of carbon fiber provides concentrated density with maximum longitudinal tensile strength which is greater than any other type of weave. Unidirectional carbon fiber is suitable for applications such as airplanes, rockets, or boats where front-to-back strength is very important.
MecHero Malaysia offers a wide range of carbon fiber fabric or carbon fiber sheets in different sizes and types for multiple applications in Malaysia. You can always contact us at +6011-7000 7687 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the inquiry. Tell us your requirements now and we can advise you accordingly.
Photo credit: cacomposites, adesivisicurezza, premier, substance3d, sglcarbon