As carbon fiber manufacturers like Protech Composites continue to innovate and make their products more accessible for more and more industries, carbon fiber panels now see a lot more use in the automotive industry.
The high-performance racing world does not seem to have enough of this incredible composite material. The widespread adoption of carbon fiber panels in racetracks around the world has made it a lot more affordable for enthusiasts who want to enhance the performance of their cars. And big manufacturers have also started to add carbon fiber panels and parts to their consumer models as well.
But, what makes carbon fiber superior to other composite materials?
When manufacturing parts and panels for the automotive industry, other materials can bring a lot to the table in terms of performance and durability.
One example is fiberglass reinforced plastic. This material is affordable and easy to work with. Fiberglass panels can be lighter than parts made of steel so they can yield decent performance advantages in limited situations. The problem is that fiberglass does not have a strong molecular composition.
Fiberglass mats are made from millions of loose microscopic glass fibers that are pressed together forming a random structure. This causes its structure to be extremely brittle, and it gets weaker over time. For example, once it cracks the breakage spreads very quickly forming spider web cracks that look really bad even after a regular paint job.
Carbon fiber panels are completely different and they offer a lot more advantages. Carbon fiber sheets are made of thousands of extremely thin fibers that are spun together into a tow. These tows define the thickness of your sheets, and their direction determines the tensile strength of the material and the finished part.
Carbon fiber panels are significantly lighter than fiberglass panel that shares their dimensions and volume. Moreover, it is more flexible and resists a lot more stress. Additionally, carbon fiber panels are fire-resistant whereas fiberglass is flammable.
Now, that does not mean that all carbon fiber panels will provide the added performance you expect.
There are many materials out there that try to pass as carbon fiber but are actually hybrids. They cost a bit more than fiberglass parts and provide that incredible carbon fiber look most of us have come to love. However, they are just a combination of a fiberglass structure and a top cosmetic carbon fiber layer which is never enough to endow the full properties of carbon. Carbon fiber panel strength comes from the superposition of multiple layers of high-quality carbon fiber sheets with a high fiber count. A single sheet of 3k carbon fiber (tows made of three thousand fibers grouped and spun together), will grant you the same structural integrity as a thick sheet of paper. These are parts generally imported from places like China or makers that want to charge a bit more for their fiberglass panels by adding a thin carbon-fiber layer just for looks.
It is then important to make sure your carbon fiber panels are made of real carbon fiber with a high tow count. The best way to guarantee you or your business is getting quality carbon fiber panels and sheets that improve the quality and performance of your products and parts is to deal directly with domestic manufacturers with a proven record of excellence.
Protech Composites understands the need for high-performance carbon fiber products and parts in the manufacturing industry, especially in the automotive field. Protech Composites is among the fastest-growing carbon fiber parts and raw materials suppliers for manufacturers of all sizes. Visit their website today or contact their amazon staff to learn how they can help you take your products to the next level.