Carbon Fiber Sheets – Pros, Cons and Examples of Practical Usage

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Being the most light-weighted, yet one of the strongest medium, carbon fiber has gain popularity in the material world. It has multiple industrial applications, including in areas such as robotics, aviation and aerospace, military, civil engineering, racing and other sports. 

Carbon fibers themselves are only about 5 to 10 micrometers thickbut can be saturated to form sheets.Carbon fiber Sheet and Carbon Fiber Veneer are processed by infusing carbon fiber fabric with epoxy resins and then cured at high temperaturesto make them rigid. These sheets are flat and tin but layering of the carbon fiber fabric and saturating them with resin can help mold them into the desired carbon fiber parts.

Pros of Using Carbon Fiber Composites

Industrial uses of carbon fiberhavegrown carbon fiber manufacturing by a great deal, as it serves as a durable and strong material. It is generally preferred over other manufacturing materials such as basalt fibers, glass fiber, or plastic fiber when it comes to aerospace, civil engineering, or robotics. There are numerous reasons to use carbon fiber panels over other material. Carbon fibershares most properties of pure metals that you can find in the periodic table of elements, except that it is manufactured in such a way that strengthens the qualities of these metals such as conductivity, durability, and density, etcetera. 

  1. Firstly, they are extremely lightweight which makes it easier to handle sports equipment and automobiles. With such low density, carbon fiber sheets offer high strength compared to its weight, making it preferable for engineers. Fabricators that wish to further reduce the weight of their material uses prepeg composites.
  2. The high tensile strength of the material makes the products strong enough to keep their shape. It is hard to bend or reshape the material, except under extremely high pressure or temperatures. It makes it perfect to be used for infrastructural projects, such as building bridges. Additionally, the strength is also extremely imperative when it comes to making military and sports products.
  3. While carbon fiber fabrication can be molded in high temperature, it still has low thermal expansion as compared to its alternatives. It is a good replacement for steel and aluminum as these materials tend to react to the temperature more. According to basic physics, as temperature rises, things expand and with a drop in temperature, they tend to contract. As a result, materials and products lose their original shape. Carbon fiber materials are less prone to expand or contract due to weather conditions, making them a preferable choice. 
  4. Carbon fiberis a replacement for most metals due to its exceptional durability. Durability is an important property to have as it ensures that the products do not wear out with time and constant use. In other words, the life of products made of carbon fiber sheets is longer than those made by pure metals such as iron. One of the reasons for its exceptional durability is that is corrosion-resistant, which is extremely important for sports and infrastructural goods. 
  5. A vital and underappreciated property of carbon fiber sheets is that they can passage of radiation, ultraviolet rays, and x-rays, making them perfect for making medical equipment. 

Cons of Using Carbon Fiber Sheet

  1. While carbon fiber sheets are used for numerous reasons, everything has its disadvantages as well. Firstly, all the pros come with a high price tag.Carbon fiber manufacturing requires advanced machinery and costly procedures. As a result, the material is heavier on the pocket as compared to its alternatives. Manufacturing of carbon fiber requires a lot of time and energy, which tends to further increase the cost. The materials used, which are carbon fabrics, prepregs, and resin are also high in price. For example, a meter square of carbon prepreg alone costs 30-50 EUR and to make 2mm thick carbon fiber sheet, at least four to five layers of prepreg are needed. Moreover, the additional cost of CNC carbon fiber machining, autoclave composites and topcoat layers increase the production price more.It is also important to note that higher the quality of the carbon fiber sheets, higher the price, which is why it is mostly used for big projects instead of everyday products. 
  2. Another major drawback of using carbon fiber composites is that, due to its high rigidity, it breaks or shatters under pressure. Its elasticity is useful in many areas, but beyond a certain point of pressure, it will break into pieces. Moreover, when shaping the caron fiber, holes are made, which too, makes the material more prone to breaking under high impact. Fragility of carbon fiber sheets makes it hard to achieve some details when making products, and manufactures end up choosing aluminum instead.
  3. Another disadvantage of using carbon fiber composites is that they are highly conductive of electric current. Although, compared to pure metals, carbon fiber is still a better option from this regard. But, when it comes to combustibility, carbon fiber is more prone to ignite when exposed to flame. The flammable property of carbon fiber makes manufacturers question whether to opt for metals or any other alternative or go with carbon fiber sheets. 
  4. Lastly, replacing carbon fiber materials is hard and costly. For example, if a product framed from carbon fiber composites is broken, it is often difficult to repair it. You would either have to spend more money to have it replaced or recycle the product totally. 

Uses of Carbon Fiber Sheets in Everyday Life

  1. There are multiple examples of practical usage of carbon fiber material in your everyday life. Just looking around your house will provide you a good idea. For example, the bicycle parked in your garage has a frame made of carbon fiber sheets to provide strength and rigidity. Plus, carbon fiber frame allows the bicycle to withstand temperature changes due to its property of low thermal expansion.
  2. It is also used for other sports equipment, which are also accessible to non-athletes. The light weighted property of carbon fiber makes it an excellent choice to use in the manufacturing of equipment such as snowboards. Innovations in manufacturing of carbon fiber has allowed engineers to tailor the material how they want and achieve the desirable properties, such as flexibility of a snowboard. 
  3. When it comes to more advanced use of the material, carbon fiber sheets are the first choice in many cases. Robotics engineers prefer using carbon fiber sheets in their projects because of its low density and ability to conduct electricity.  A common exampleincludesusing carbon fiber sheets for drones, which can benefit from the ability of the material to manage longer flights and being light weight to reduce the energy consumption. 
  4. Its physical strength makes carbon fiber composites an ideal material when it comes to making aerospace goods. Moreover, added with strength, the properties of high dimensional stability and low abrasion makes it perfect to be used for manufacturing of weapons, telescopes, aerospace antenna, etc. 

Versatility of carbon fiber sheets makes it popular among engineers who were previously bound to use pure metals, which are not rich in all these properties. With time and innovation, carbon fiber composites have taken over and scientists are still looking for ways to make it more adjustable and cover the cons of using it.