Materials Used To Build Carbon Fiber Tubes

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Impulse is such an important thing. Mainly following it can actually lead you to different directions toward success. It is a spark, when ignited, may lead to a chain of reaction that needs to happen and done. This was exactly what happened to the development of carbon fiber tubes. Around 1950’s, this material was developed as a reinforcement to other composite materials. But due to ignited impulse, and probably humanity’s unending cravings for satisfaction and advancement, this same product became the object of much experimentation until finally, it reached different fields for humanity’s holistic benefits like transportation, marine, air craft, construction, electrical and even sports.

Why does carbon fiber tubes became instantly popular that it became the best choice compared to other metals like aluminum and steel? Let us scrutinize the materials used to build this remarkable discovery. The tube is actually composed of thousands of carbon fibers in its thinnest forms of about 0.005 to 0.010 mm only in diameter. A large portion of it is made of carbon atoms. These are confined together so that these fibers will project a largely surprising strength compared to its appearance. It works practically the same with broom stick bonded together to be stronger and functional – but on a totally larger scale. The bond that made the fibers stay together are microscopic crystals intended to be aligned parallel to its axis. This way, the strength of the tube will be felt even more.

The precursor used is a big factor of the properties displayed by each tube. These are the raw materials that are used essentially to create carbon fiber tubes. Depending on the precursor used, there are a number of classifications of this material, namely, PAN-based (polyacrylonitrile); pitch-based; rayon-based; mesophase pitch-based; isotropic pitch-based; and gas-phase-grown based.

For PAN and rayon-based classifications, carbon fibers undergo three important processes which are stabilization, carbonization and graphitization. In stabilization, the material is being stretched and oxidized in its respective temperature. PAN-based usually undergo a range of about 200-300 degrees centigrade; while rayon-based is only at around 25-150 degrees centigrade. PAN-based is carbonized at around 1000 degrees centigrade, while rayon-based can undergo the same procedure with only a temperature of 400-700 degrees centigrade. The last step, for the graphitization, the former classification can undergo a temperature between 1500-3000 degrees centigrade; while the latter one can stand out the test of heat at 700-2700 degrees centigrade.

The mesophase and isotropic-pitch based generally follow four steps to achieve the accurate fabrication of carbon fibers. The first step is the preparation, where the crystals that serve as the bond will be adjusted and undergo certain heating process. The second step is spinning and drawing. Here, each filament is organized into the desired directions. The third step is the stabilization wherein thermosetting is made possible. The last step is carbonization with a temperature between 1000 to 1500 degrees centigrade.

With the quality of materials used, and how the carbon fiber tubes are built, it is not at all surprising to know that more and more fields depend largely in this wonder to finally produce a masterpiece.

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