Developing the Carbon Fiber Panels Giving Flight to Aerospace Design

carbon fiber panels

Demand for commercial aircraft continues to rebound strongly after the pandemic. Airbus and Boeing expect that at least 40,000 new jets will need to be produced over the next 20 years. Airlines want more fuel-efficient planes that meet strict standards for design safety.

Carbon fiber panels are an important part of meeting this demand. The right manufacturing processes give your design the full benefits of carbon fiber. Learn more about carbon fiber panels and their aerospace advantages.

Techniques for Manufacturing Carbon Fiber Components

Carbon fiber panels are made with a combination of carbon fiber and a binding resin like epoxy or vinyl ester. The carbon fiber provides strength for the binding matrix.

Prepreg carbon fiber composite fabrics provide the best mechanical properties for aerospace applications. This is because the fabric isn’t cured during manufacture. Curing happens during the fabrication of parts.

The two main curing options for carbon fiber manufacturing are autoclave and out-of-autoclave curing.

Autoclave Curing

Autoclave curing is a longstanding method for curing prepreg composites. It produces the quality and material properties necessary for aerospace applications.

An autoclave is a heated pressure vessel. Autoclave curing uses a vacuum and external pressure. This combination prevents voids from forming and consolidates the plies in the composite.

Out-of-Autoclave Curing

Out-of-autoclave curing uses a vacuum, pressure, and heat outside the autoclave. Only in the last decade has this method been able to achieve the less than 1% void content and high-quality mechanical properties necessary for the aerospace industry.

The out-of-autoclave method uses lower temperatures and pressure compared to autoclave curing. It reduces energy and tooling costs. Cycle times are shorter.

Benefits of Carbon Fiber Panels for Aerospace Applications

Carbon fiber panels have many advantages over other materials for the aerospace industry. They allow for more innovative and efficient designs.


One of the main benefits of carbon fiber composites is their exceptional strength-to-weight ratio. They’re light without losing structural integrity. Weight reduction is important for aircraft performance.

A lightweight design helps improve fuel efficiency. Aircraft can fly further with less fuel. This reduces operating costs and is better for the environment.


Carbon fiber composites are very durable. They have high tensile strength, which means they resist breaking under tension. Their damage tolerance helps redistribute loads and prevent cracks.

Carbon fiber panels promote design safety and help improve outcomes in the event of an accident.

Resistance to Corrosion and Chemicals

Carbon fiber panels don’t suffer from corrosion. They don’t react with metals. This characteristic extends the lifespan of metal parts, and carbon fiber components have a longer lifespan as well.

Chemical resistance is another useful feature of aerospace carbon fiber. The material won’t weaken, corrode, or break when exposed to chemicals. Carbon fiber panels are well-suited for the demanding environments of aerospace applications.

Boost Your Aerospace Design with Carbon Fiber Panels

Carbon fiber panels have many advantages in aerospace design. Carbon fiber is lightweight and durable. It resists damage and corrosion.

SMI Composites offers both autoclave and out-of-autoclave fabrication methods. We give you complete transparency and traceability of materials and processes. We use in-line quality control, and we’re AS9100D and ISO 9001:2015 certified.

Request a quote from SMI Composites today and put our experienced team to work on your next aerospace carbon fiber project.

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