Carbon Fiber Applications -- Some Do's and Don'ts

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Okay, it’s no surprise that we’re big fans of carbon fiber. It has an impressive list of physical properties and besides, it looks great – especially in a gloss finish. But even we have to admit, there are some situations when carbon fiber isn’t a good fit for the job.

Here’s a short list of “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to using carbon fiber:

DO use carbon fiber for applications requiring:

  • a sleek, high-end look
  • an extremely strong but lightweight material
  • a heat or fire resistant material (low thermal conductivity)
  • limited expansion or contraction in hot or cold temperatures
  • corrosion resistance
  • an ability to withstand a high level of repetitive use or wear and tear

DON’T use carbon fiber for:

  • Projects with potential for high impact damage to the carbon fiber.
    Although carbon fiber is strong, when it reaches its breaking point, it shatters. It’s a potentially dangerous situation you’ll want to avoid.
  • High use applications like kitchen countertops.
    The glossy finish scratches easily and will scuff with constant use unless it’s coated with a very hard clear coat material. Polishes help, but it’ll still be a battle to keep it looking good. Carbon fiber canbe used beautifully on kitchen cabinets and desks, but it’s best applied on vertical surfaces that get less physical wear.
  • Don’t use carbon fiber sheets on compound curves.
    Actually, it isn’t possible. Real carbon fiber sheets just won’t bend two ways (front to back and side to side) at the same time. If you have a project that requires wrapping around a complex curve, you’ll need to develop a mold. Carbon fiber fabric is then laid on the mold, infused with resin and heated to obtain a finished product.

If you have an application idea and you’re wondering whether carbon fiber makes sense, just give us a call or drop us an email at info@protechcomposites.com. We’ll be glad to give you an honest opinion about whether carbon fiber’s a good fit for your project.