In essence, carbon fiber is a form of fiber, also referred to as graphite fiber. Creating carbon fiber is a complex procedure sourced from millions of thin, strong crystalline filaments. On their own, the filaments are weak, but when stacked on top of each other in different orientations/weaves the structural integrity becomes very rigid; by adding resin to the carbon fiber, it takes the form and shape we all recognize today. After this process, carbon fiber becomes stronger than steel, while remaining lighter than aluminum (depending on the application).
There are several types of carbon fiber. At CRBN we use the following three in the majority of our products:
- 3K Carbon Fiber – 3 thousand filaments per strand
- 6K Carbon Fiber – 6 thousand filaments per strand
- 12k Carbon Fiber – 12 thousand filaments per strand
Using fewer amounts of filaments per strand, the material becomes structurally stronger per centimeter squared, since there are more weaves within that specific area. Depending on the types of weaves, we are able to subjectively control where we would like to add strength. Generally, in most carbon fiber parts, sheets are stacked in different directions to get the most strength depending on the application.
The carbon fiber sheet itself has various weave styles (patterns). CRBN designs products using two main forms: plain and twill, which are recognizable to most. Plain weave carbon fiber is when the strands are woven one by one, giving the material a checkered look. Twill weave carbon fiber is when the strands are woven two by two, a design commonly used by car manufacturers.
What makes carbon fiber special?
Initially, carbon fiber gained its popularity from being used in space shuttles, racing cars, and aircrafts. Before the ’90s, carbon fiber was considered unappealing and was commonly covered with paint. However, nowadays it actually costs more to showcase the carbon fiber as it is challenging to perfect the weave and design finish without primer. The material adds a significant aesthetic value in motorsports and is highly appreciated by car fanatics. In the recent year, carbon fiber is also being used for prosthetic limbs, electricity, structural reinforcement in construction sites, house decorations, daily accessories, car accents, and more.
There are several benefits to the product. Below are some of the functional benefits of the material:
- Stronger than steel (depending on multiple factors)
- Lighter than aluminum
- Fire resistant
- Fatigue resistant
- Easy to shape