Carbon Fiber, also known as graphite fiber or carbon graphite is one of the most useful and strong materials used for the manufacturing of parts that need to maintain the lightweight as well as performance qualities. The reason here is that the carbon fibers have high tensile strength and are very strong for their size. At the same time, this is also very light in weight. It is a highly efficient material, driving innovation in various markets such as automobile, healthcare, aerospace, and more.
Here in this guide, we bring to you detailed information on carbon fiber manufacturing. So let’s begin.
Methods for Creating Carbon Fiber Parts
It is important to note that manufacturing carbon fiber parts is a skillful and labor-intensive process. The time required may range from one hour to 150 hours depending on the size and complexity of the part you want to make. Talking about FRP fabrication, this process includes the continuous straight fibers that are joined in the matrix to form individual plies and they are laminated layer-by-layer onto the final part.
In the process of carbon fiber manufacturing, there are various laminating techniques available, which include:
This is one of the most used processes for carbon fiber manufacturing where the fiber is cut and laid into the mold and then a brush is used to apply resin. Resin can be also applied using a roller, or spray gun. It is an affordable as well as a complex method that needs skills to create high-quality parts. When you are new to the industry of manufacturing carbon fiber sheets and have no access to that highly advanced equipment, then ‘wet lay-up’ can be the ideal way to start with.
This is another method of manufacturing carbon fiber sheets and parts where the resin is infused in the fiber ahead and the sheets are stored cold to inhibit the cure. The next process here is curing the piles into the mold using heat and pressure in an autoclave where the composites can join together. When it comes to the manufacturing of quality products, this is a more reliable method and large quantities can be created because the quantity of resin is controlled. One thing to note here is that this is also the most expensive carbon fiber manufacturing method and it’s mostly used in high-performance applications.
Resin transfer molding (RTM)
In technical terms, resin transfer molding is one of the Out-of-autoclave sustainable composites processes, which is mostly used in the aerospace industry. This is also a simple process where the fiber preform is placed in a female mold, which is clamped shut before forcing the resin into the cavity at high pressure. And the results are just amazing; you get the final product in no time, which is both precise as well as well furnished. The process is mostly automated and used for larger volume manufacturing.
The benefits of carbon fiber
Now that we all know the methods used for carbon fiber manufacturing, it is important to also understand the amazing benefits this material offers. Let’s have a look at the advantages of carbon composites.
- Lightweight – One of the most important things that you will feel about carbon fiber when you hold it in your hands for the first time in your life is its weight. Carbon fiber is five times lighter than steel as well as 2 times lighter than aluminum when comparing similar-sized pieces. This is the reason that this has replaced the steel and aluminum parts in products where weight needs to be reduced significantly.
- High Strength – Despite the fact that carbon fiber is much lighter than steel and aluminum, this is no less strong than both materials. In fact, it has been claimed that carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) is highly strong and stiff per density compared to metal, plastic, and wood, making it the ideal pick for the manufacturing of lightweight as well as strong products or parts.
- Resistance to Corrosion – Are you working in an industry where using steel material is a growing concern due to the high risk of corrosion? If yes then you are sure to fall in love with this amazing material as the epoxy resin used in its manufacturing is inert and not susceptible to corrosion or rust. This makes it well suitable for making products that are exposed to saltwater or corrosion chemical agents.
- Low Thermal Expansion – Experts claim that carbon fiber material has a very low CTE (Coefficient of Thermal Expansion), which means that this will not expand in case exposed to heat. This is unlike the other materials like steel, which is likely to expand and weaken in the heat which can cause issues and possible failure of the part. This makes it suitable when manufacturing products that are exposed to heat.
- Exceptional Durability – One of the best reasons that carbon fiber is widely being used for the manufacturing of aerospace and automobile parts is that this is very much durable and comes with superior fatigue properties in comparison to other materials like steel and aluminum. So we can say that the parts made out of carbon fiber won’t wear out as quickly under the stress of constant use.
Hence proved that carbon fiber is one of the most amazing materials available in the modern era, which is not just easy-to-make, but also offers amazing benefits, which is why it is used by various industries across the world. While carbon fiber manufacturing may look easy, this needs good skills for quality and it’s not as affordable as it seems, which is why only the best brands should be trusted when you want to buy the products made from carbon fibers. Never trust those dodgy brands that never offer a guarantee on their manufactured products or parts. We always recommend autoclave composites over OOA prepreg composites because they are capable of providing ultra-light weight prepreg carbon fiber components that offer excellent aesthetics with zero air voids, which can only be achieved using the autoclave manufacturing method.