What Is Carbon Fiber Material and Why Is It Used In Cars?
When browsing or shopping for a new exotic or high-end luxury car, you may notice that the car comes with or is available with carbon fiber components. Other than the fact that carbon fiber can look pretty cool, you may not truly know what carbon fiber actually is or why it has found a use in high-end cars.
As it turns out, though, carbon fiber is the latest and greatest material for use in building automobiles. Not only is it strong, but it’s incredibly light, especially considering that strength.
So, what exactly is this stuff? Well, the name itself gives us a hint, though you may be surprised to find it’s that simple. Carbon fiber is essentially fiber made out of carbon, the 6th element on the periodic table.
These strands of fiber can be woven together and then set in resin to form a solid component. As we said earlier, the material is strong, but because we are talking about fiber, it’s also lightweight, making it a good replacement for aluminum.
Benefits of Using Carbon Fiber In Cars
That lightweight quality, combined with strength, is one key reason carbon fiber has found a use in cars. This makes it great for sports cars and exotic models where high-performance capability is expected, but where aluminum is seen as an inferior material due to its fragility, at least in comparison to carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is interesting in another way, as well, in that it can also be used both inside and outside the vehicle for decorative purposes. Woven together, these carbon fiber strands can form an appealing pattern that adds an extra element to the car’s design.
Why Does Carbon Fiber Cost So Much?
As we mentioned, carbon fiber is often used in high-end luxury or exotic cars, and you wouldn’t typically find it in economy class vehicles. Some of that surely has to do with the high-performance expectations of high-end cars, but it also has to do with cost.
In addition, there is much more care that goes into crafting carbon fiber components than there is with either steel or aluminum. To keep the resin from hardening prematurely it needs to be kept at very cold temperatures, meaning you can’t use too much heat to form the shape you want in the same way you might melt steel and pour it into a mold to create a part. Moreover, you only have a certain amount of time to create the carbon fiber shape you want. Any molds used to create these shapes also have a very limited life span. Simply put, it’s an operation that requires caution, care and can’t be mass-produced quite so easily.
For all of these reasons and more, carbon fiber is a valued material in today’s cars, and if you have the option of adding it to your vehicle, we often suggest it.