Compared to other highly-durable materials, carbon fiber is pricey. But this is changing. Industrial-grade carbon fiber used to cost as much as $15 per pound; now it can cost as little as $7 per pound.
How is this possible? Carbon fiber cost factors are undergoing increasing advancement. This is lowering the price of raw material, production, and technology.
Wondering what other factors go into determining the price of carbon fiber? Then keep reading.
1. Raw Materials
Carbon fiber is what’s known as a composite material. Composite materials are made of two or more products, and the cost of these products helps determine carbon fiber’s ultimate price. Carbon fiber is a composite of multiple materials, including:
- Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)
Luckily, the manufacturing industry has been hard at work on new methods and raw materials to reduce carbon fiber costs. For example, researchers are developing more reactive resins to cut down the time it takes to produce carbon fiber.
Another carbon fiber cost factor is energy. Once manufacturers create the resin fibers from PAN and other precursors, they treat these fibers with chemicals, heat, and stretching. Then, fibers carbonize, reinforced with carbon atoms.
It takes a lot of energy to reinforce each fiber with carbon atoms. Energy, also required to bundle the carbon together into fibers and threads. Energy costs are probably the most expensive factor in carbon fiber manufacturing.
Production for carbon fiber include things like labor and machinery.
Making carbon fiber is a highly-specialized process. For that reason, not just anyone can work as a carbon fiber manufacturer.
The machinery needed to produce carbon fiber is also quite advanced. These machines can cost thousands of dollars, driving up the price of the end product.
The good news is that, like most manufacturing industries, carbon fiber producers are finding new ways to automate production. With fewer skilled workers needed and advanced technology that doesn’t need to be replaced as often, it’s no wonder the cost is on the decline.
4. Software and Technology
Manufacturing and assembly machines aren’t the only technology cost factors to consider. New composite manufacturing software is coming out on the market. For example:
- Design simulation software to reduce the design cycle time
- Cost modeling software to analyze sources of lost efficiency
- Knowledged-based engineering products to lower labor costs
Software providers are also introducing products to help identify manufacturing risks upfront. This will reduce costly mistakes before they happen, further reducing cycle times and carbon fiber manufacturing costs.
The Carbon Fiber Cost is Dropping
Raw materials, energy, and production software and technology are the biggest factors during manufacturing. With recent modern advances, though, the total cost to produce carbon fiber is on the decline.
Are you searching for a carbon fiber composite manufacturer? You’ve come to the right place. Get in touch with SMI Composites today to find out how we can help lower your costs for carbon fiber.