How to Distinguish Between Fake vs Real Carbon Fiber

real carbon fiber

The carbon fiber industry produces hundreds of kilotons of the material each year. The growing popularity has attracted imitations, and many products reproduce the look of the material without its strength.

How do you know which products offer carbon fiber’s many benefits? If you’re purchasing materials for a project, you don’t want to risk your final product on a fake.

If you want to make sure you can get real products, keep reading. We’ll highlight the biggest differences between real and fake carbon fiber.

Authenticity Costs Money

The simplest way to tell real vs. fake carbon fiber comes at the cash register. If the product seems cheap compared to other carbon fiber products on the market, someone cut corners somewhere.

This doesn’t always mean that the product includes fake material. Sometimes other elements like the resin or other parts drive the price down. If it’s cheap and anything feels off, though, you should give the material a closer inspection.

The Look of the Genuine Article

When light hits real carbon fiber, it creates a holographic effect. The light will hit individual fibers and create a rainbow-like appearance through the resin.

If the product doesn’t have this effect under sunlight, you’re looking at a fake material. Some fake products have started to recreate this look, but most fakes lack the weave pattern that creates this effect.

Real Carbon Fiber Has a Distinct Sound

If a sample still feels ambiguous after looking at the price tag and the appearance, give it a few taps with your knuckles. It should sound like thin plastic.

Fake carbon fiber often sounds metallic. If you’re worried about the authenticity find somewhere you can handle the genuine article and get a sense of the sound before going shopping.

Weight Matters

If you pick up a piece of carbon fiber and it feels much heavier than you’d expect from its size, you don’t have the real deal. Weighing much less than steel or aluminum, so you should expect a much lighter weight.

This applies most when looking for completed products. Most manufacturers won’t try to pass a metal or heavy-duty plastic off as a real product. Finished products like bicycles¬†could use heavier materials as a cost-cutting measure.

The Thumb Test

If all else fails, shove your thumb into it with some real force behind it. The real material won’t bend unless you apply enormous pressure. While this test won’t apply to whole sheets of carbon fiber, it’ll sort out real parts from phony ones.

Don’t Get Fooled

Whether you’re looking for carbon fiber sheets for a project or a new carbon fiber bicycle, you deserve the genuine article. Take the time to check how everything looks and feels. If something’s off, it’s not real.

If you’re looking for carbon fiber or other composites for your next project, contact us at SMI Composites. Our experienced team can help you find the best material for your project and brings years of expertise to every step of the process. If you want to get started, reach out for a quote.

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