What is carbon fiber for cars
Aluminum has become part of the mainstream automotive industry today. Pickup fans know that it's even used on some full-size trucks. That's because companies have been able to develop aluminum alloys that are as strong as steel, but significantly lighter. Lighter cars can use smaller, more fuel-efficient engines to achieve the same performance. But there is another new material entering the mainstream that could have an even bigger impact. The material is eight times stronger and 1.5 times heavier than aluminum. Unsurprisingly, the material with these magical properties was created by a wizard. In 1879, Thomas Edison (aka the Wizard of Menlo Park) invented carbon fiber.
What is carbon fiber While automotive terminology can be confusing at times, the word isn't. Carbon fiber literally refers to fibers made primarily from the element carbon. For Edison's early examples, the starting point was cotton or bamboo. He heated small pieces of these organic carbon-based materials and used them as filaments in his early incandescent light bulbs. The heating process dries out most of the non-carbon atoms, leaving only a small sliver of carbon fiber. Because tungsten was ultimately a better fit for Edison's light bulbs, carbon fiber technology would have to wait 80 years for the next major advance. This also starts with the filament of the light bulb. But by 1958, scientist Roger Bacon discovered that under certain conditions, starting from certaincarbon-based materials, high-strength carbon whiskers could be created during heating. For years, scientists havebeen able to create yarns that are essentially carbon fibers that can be woven into sheets. Generally, when people talk about carbon fiber used in cars today, they are talking about carbon fiber filaments that are woven into resin. Next, this carbon fiber composite material, sometimes called carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), is molded on demand. Once the resin sets, you have a lightweight auto part that derives its strength from the same elements that make up a diamond.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of carbon fiber? The main advantage of carbon fiber is its amazing strength-to-weight ratio. In addition to the advantages compared to aluminum we mentioned above, carbon fiber is 5 times lighter and 10 times stronger than regular steel. It also looks cool. The main disadvantage of carbon fiber is the price. When the lab created the first new carbon fiber in the late 1950s, the inventor estimated the cost per pound at $10 million. It has dropped a lot in recent years. In fact, some experts predict that the price of carbon fiber will drop to around $4.50 a pound by 2020. By comparison, steel costs about $0.18 per pound. The benefits of carbon fiber come directly from its lightness and strength. That said, it can provide enough long-term savings in efficiency and durability to make up for the pricing disadvantage. Additionally, carbon fiber costs should continue to decline as automakers increase their focus on manufacturing operations. , for example, has invested $300 million in a joint venture to operate the world's largest carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Washington.
What is carbon fiber for cars? Carbon fiber is still more common in premium cars and trucks, but these vehicles can use carbon fiber from top to bottom. This is no exaggeration, as there are all kinds of vehicles available today, from carbon fiber roofs to carbon fiber wheels. The former includes the Chevrolet Corvette, which offers a removable carbon fiber roof panel for open-air driving. Meanwhile, Chevrolet's crosstown rival has introduced the industry's first mass-produced carbon fiber wheels for the latest 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R . The Corvette and , along with many other sports cars, also offer carbon fiber bodywork, including the bonnet, rear wing and other aero updates. In the high-efficiency i3, the German brand utilizes its carbon fiber factory for nearly all body panels.
As a result, the original i3 had a relatively light kerb weight of 2,755 pounds. If had relied on conventional steel to build the car, it would have weighed 3,306 pounds, 20 percent more than it does today. The i3 and some exotic supercars also have carbon fiber skins. It's part of the passenger protection battery in the i3 and Lamborghini Aventador, and carbon fiber is used for almost the entire platform. Inside the cabin, carbon fiber trim can adorn luxury models, from a Cadillac ATS to a Land Rover Range Rover. History may also repeat itself in the pickup segment. Likewise, the aluminum base of the Ford F-150 marks a breakthrough, and GM is looking into using carbon fiber in future trucks for a similar purpose.