What is carbon fiber material?

Almost anything can be made with carbon fiber material. This important material is everywhere and we use it almost every day. The material is used for products like fiber wallets, bicycles, boats, cars and jewellery. But what is carbon fiber material exactly? And how is it made?

The history of carbon fiber material dates back to 1879 when Thomas Edison baked cotton threads or bamboo silvers at high temperatures. This material carbonized into a carbon fiber filament. In 1958 carbon fiber materials where invented in Ohio, America. These fiber where unusable, but they contained around 20 percent carbon and had stiffness properties and a low strength. Five years later, in 1963, an innovative manufacturing process was developed and the carbon fibers strength potential was realized.

From what carbon fiber material is made?  

Carbon fiber material is made from raw material what is called the precursor. Most of the fibers are produced and made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN). These organic polymers exists of long strings of molecules, which are bound together by carbon atoms.

How carbon fiber material is made?

Carbon fiber material is made from a process that is mechanical and chemical. Before the carbon fiber material is carbonized, it need to be chemically altered to convert their linear atomic bonding to a thermally stable ladder bonding. To achieve this, the carbon fiber material is heated in air to about 200-300 degrees Celsius for 30 until 120 minutes.

After the stabilization process the carbonizing process starts. Long strands of fibers are drawed and heated to a very high temperature, without allowing it to come in contact with oxygen to prevent the fibers from burning. The heating process is the moment that the carbonization takes place. The atoms inside of the fibers are violently, destroying the non-carbon atoms. The result is a fiber that is composed of long, tightly inter-locked chains and carbon atoms.

During the manufacturing process, many different gasses and liquids are used. Some of the materials are designed to prevent reactions with the fiber. Other materials are designed to achieve a specific reaction.