Carbon Fiber Material in the Aerospace Industry: What to Know

carbon fiber material

The aerospace industry is constantly advancing. As such, any aerospace innovations require the highest quality resources available.

Since its invention in 1958, the use of carbon fiber material has grown massively all over the world. It has several properties that make it suitable for many different applications.

To understand what makes carbon fiber such a useful material, keep reading.

What Is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber is a strong, lightweight material that is comprised of carbon atoms that have been aligned into long, thin fibers. Each fiber is narrower than human hair. The addition of epoxy gives the final product.

Advantages of Carbon Fiber Material

The increased use of carbon fiber over the years is down to it having several advantages over alternative materials.

Note that all specifications of any parts made will vary based on the quality of the material used. For information on the quality of SMI Composites products feel free to read more here:

Specific Strength/Rigidity

Perhaps the most significant advantage of carbon fiber is the strength-to-weight ratio.

When it comes to the aerospace industry, the weight of any materials used is a huge factor. Of course, with many materials, it isn’t possible to achieve the strength needed while keeping the weight down.

It is also a very rigid material. The tensile strength of carbon fiber is about 3.8 times higher, and the specific stiffness is about 1.71 times higher than that of aluminum.

Corrosion/Chemical Resistance

Carbon fiber is resistant to rust and corrosion and is chemically stable. This means it has excellent longevity in harsh environments.

Epoxy is also corrosion and rust-resistant but susceptible to UV rays. A UV-resistant finish can help to avoid any long-term effects on any pieces which will be exposed to UV rays.

Heat Resistance

One disadvantage of metals is that significant temperature changes can cause them to expand/contract.

Carbon fiber has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. This is ideal as in the aerospace industry where extreme temperatures can be quite common. This is very important when parts used need to stay as uniform as possible.

Uses of Carbon Fiber

Carbon Fiber has become one of the most useful materials in the aerospace industry. The Boeing 747 for example consists of up to 50% carbon fiber material (by weight). Often used in the fuselage, wings, and tail of aircraft.

Carbon fiber is also a common choice to replace metal helicopter parts including the rotor blades and tail.

Due to the advantages of carbon fiber, as well as the appearance, carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth are also used for many other applications:

  • Sporting goods
  • Wind turbines
  • Nascar/formula 1 cars
  • High-end automobiles
  • Photography equipment

Finding the Parts You Need

SMI Composites are a leading manufacturer of composite parts. We offer several capabilities – autoclave curing, out-of-autoclave curing, bladder molding, cast molding, and compression molding. This makes us more than capable of producing any parts you need.

All tools used are made in-house. This means that the level of quality control and our carbon fiber material is the best it can be.

So, don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know what you need.

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