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Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer

Tail of an RC helicopter, made of CFRP Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer or carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP or CRP), is a very strong, light, and expensive composite material or fiber-reinforced polymer. imilar to fiberglass (glass reinforced polymer), the composite material is commonly referred to by the name of its reinforcing fibers (carbon fiber). The polymer is most often epoxy, b!t other polymers, s!ch as polyester, vinyl ester or nylon, are sometimes !sed. ome composites contain both carbon fiber and other fibers s!ch as "evlar, al!mini!m, and fiberglass reinforcement. The terms graphite-reinforced polymer or graphite fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) are also !sed, b!t less commonly, since glass-(fiber)-reinforced polymer can also be called #FRP. $n prod!ct advertisements, it is sometimes referred to simply as graphite fiber (or graphite fibre), for short.

It has many applications in aerospace and automotive fields, as well as in sailboats, and notably in modern bicycles and motorcycles, where its high strength-to-weight ratio is of importance. Improved manufacturing techniques are reducing the costs and time to manufacture, making it increasingly common in small consumer goods as well, such as laptops, tripods, fishing rods, paintball equipment, archery equipment, racquet frames, stringed instrument bodies, classical guitar strings, drum shells, golf clubs, and pool/billiards/snooker cues.

[edit] Composite
%aterials prod!ced &ith the above-mentioned methodology are often generically referred to as composites. The choice of matrix can have a profo!nd effect on the properties of the finished composite. 'ne method of prod!cing graphite-epoxy parts is by layering sheets of carbon fiber cloth into a mold in the shape of the final prod!ct. The alignment and &eave of the cloth fibers is chosen to optimi(e the strength and stiffness properties of the res!lting material. The mold is then filled &ith epoxy and is heated or air-c!red. The res!lting part is very corrosion-resistant, stiff, and strong for its &eight. Parts !sed in less critical areas are man!fact!red by draping cloth over a mold, &ith epoxy either preimpregnated into the fibers (also "no&n as prepreg) or )painted) over it. *igh-performance parts !sing single molds are often vac!!m-bagged and+or a!toclave-c!red, beca!se even small air b!bbles in the material &ill red!ce strength.

[edit] Process
The process by &hich most carbon fiber-reinforced polymer is made varies, depending on the piece being created, the finish (o!tside gloss) re,!ired, and ho& many of this partic!lar piece are going to be prod!ced. For simple pieces of &hich relatively fe& copies are needed, (-./ per day) a vac!!m bag can be !sed. 0 fiberglass, carbon fiber or al!min!m mold is polished and &axed, and has a release agent applied before the fabric and resin are applied, and the vac!!m is p!lled and set aside to allo& the piece to c!re (harden). There are t&o &ays to apply the resin to the fabric in a vac!!m mold. 'ne is called a &et lay!p, &here the t&o-part resin is mixed and applied before being laid in the mold and placed in the bag. The other is a resin ind!ction system, &here the dry fabric and mold are placed inside the bag &hile the vac!!m p!lls the resin thro!gh a small t!be into the bag, then thro!gh a t!be &ith holes or something similar to evenly spread the resin thro!gho!t the fabric. 1ire loom &or"s perfectly for a t!be that re,!ires holes inside the bag. 2oth of these methods of applying resin re,!ire hand &or" to spread the resin evenly for a glossy finish &ith very small pin-holes. 0 third method of constr!cting composite materials is "no&n as a dry lay!p. *ere, the carbon fiber material is already impregnated &ith resin (prepreg) and is applied to the mold in a similar fashion to adhesive film. The assembly is then placed in a vac!!m to c!re. The dry lay!p method has the least amo!nt of resin &aste and can achieve lighter constr!ctions than &et lay!p. 0lso, beca!se larger amo!nts of resin are more diffic!lt to bleed o!t &ith &et lay!p methods, prepreg parts generally have fe&er pinholes. Pinhole elimination &ith minimal resin amo!nts generally re,!ire the !se of a!toclave press!res to p!rge the resid!al gases o!t.

0 ,!ic"er method !ses a compression mold. This is a t&o-piece (male and female) mold !s!ally made o!t of fiberglass or al!min!m that is bolted together &ith the fabric and resin bet&een the t&o. The benefit is that, once it is bolted together, it is relatively clean and can be moved aro!nd or stored &itho!t a vac!!m !ntil after c!ring. *o&ever, the molds re,!ire a lot of material to hold together thro!gh many !ses !nder that press!re. %any carbon fiber-reinforced polymer parts are created &ith a single layer of carbon fabric, and filled &ith fiberglass. 0 tool called a chopper g!n can be !sed to ,!ic"ly create these types of parts. 'nce a thin shell is created o!t of carbon fiber, the chopper g!n is a pne!matic tool that c!ts fiberglass from a roll and sprays resin at the same time, so that the fiberglass and resin are mixed on the spot. The resin is either external mix, &herein the hardener and resin are sprayed separately, or internal, &here they are mixed internally, &hich re,!ires cleaning after every !se. For diffic!lt or convol!ted shapes, a filament &inder can be !sed to ma"e pieces.

[edit] Automotive uses


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Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer is !sed extensively in high-end a!tomobile racing. The high cost of carbon fiber is mitigated by the material4s !ns!rpassed strength-to-&eight ratio, and lo& &eight is essential for high-performance a!tomobile racing. Racecar man!fact!rers have also developed methods to give carbon fiber pieces strength in a certain direction, ma"ing it strong in a load-bearing direction, b!t &ea" in directions &here little or no load &o!ld be placed on the member. 'n the converse, man!fact!rers developed omnidirectional carbon fiber &eaves that apply strength in all directions. This type of carbon fiber assembly is most &idely !sed in the )safety cell) monoco,!e chassis assembly of high-performance racecars. %any s!percars over the past fe& decades have incorporated CFRP extensively in their man!fact!re, !sing it for their monoco,!e chassis as &ell as other components. 3ntil recently, the material has had limited !se in mass-prod!ced cars beca!se of the expense involved in terms of materials, e,!ipment, and the relatively limited pool of individ!als &ith expertise in &or"ing &ith it. Recently, several mainstream vehicle man!fact!rers have started to !se CFRP in everyday road cars. 3se of the material has been more readily adopted by lo&-vol!me man!fact!rers &ho !sed it primarily for creating body-panels for some of their high-end cars d!e to its increased strength and decreased &eight compared &ith the glass-reinforced polymer they !sed for the ma5ority of their prod!cts. 'ften street racers or hobbyist t!ners &ill p!rchase a carbon fiber-reinforced polymer hood, spoiler or body panel as an aftermar"et part for their vehicle. *o&ever, these parts are rarely made of f!ll carbon fiber. They are often 5!st a single layer of carbon fiber laminated onto

fiberglass for the )loo") of carbon fiber. $t is common for these parts to remain !npainted to accent!ate the loo" of the carbon fiber &eave.

[edit] Civil engineering applications


Carbon fiber reinforced polymer has over the past t&o decades become an increasingly notable material !sed in str!ct!ral engineering applications. t!died in an academic context as to its potential benefits in constr!ction, it has also proved itself cost-effective in a n!mber of field applications strengthening concrete, masonry, steel, cast iron, and timber str!ct!res. $ts !se in ind!stry can be either for retrofitting to strengthen an existing str!ct!re or as an alternative reinforcing (or prestressing material) instead of steel from the o!tset of a pro5ect. Retrofitting has become the increasingly dominant !se of the material in civil engineering, and applications incl!de increasing the load capacity of old str!ct!res (s!ch as bridges) that &ere designed to tolerate far lo&er service loads than they are experiencing today, seismic retrofitting, and repair of damaged str!ct!res. Retrofitting is pop!lar in many instances as the cost of replacing the deficient str!ct!re can greatly exceed its strengthening !sing CFRP.6-7 0pplied to reinforced concrete str!ct!res for flex!re, CFRP typically has a large impact on strength (do!bling or more the strength of the section is not !ncommon), b!t only a moderate increase in stiffness (perhaps a -89 increase). This is beca!se the material !sed in this application is typically very strong (e.g., :888 %Pa !ltimate tensile strength, more than -8 times mild steel) b!t not partic!larly stiff (-;8 to /;8 #Pa, a little less than steel, is typical). 0s a conse,!ence, only small cross-sectional areas of the material are !sed. mall areas of very high strength b!t moderate stiffness material &ill significantly increase strength, b!t not stiffness. CFRP can also be applied to enhance shear strength of reinforced concrete by &rapping fabrics or fibers aro!nd the section to be strengthened. 1rapping aro!nd sections (s!ch as bridge or b!ilding col!mns) can also enhance the d!ctility of the section, greatly increasing the resistance to collapse !nder earth,!a"e loading. !ch 4seismic retrofit4 is the ma5or application in earth,!a"e-prone areas, since it is m!ch more economic than alternative methods. $f a col!mn is circ!lar (or nearly so) an increase in axial capacity is also achieved by &rapping. $n this application, the confinement of the CFRP &rap enhances the compressive strength of the concrete. *o&ever, altho!gh large increases are achieved in the !ltimate collapse load, the concrete &ill crac" at only slightly enhanced load, meaning that this application is only occasionally !sed. pecialist !ltra-high mod!l!s CFRP (&ith tensile mod!l!s of </8 #Pa or more) is one of the fe& practical methods of strengthening cast-iron beams. $n typical !se, it is bonded to the tensile flange of the section, both increasing the stiffness of the section and lo&ering the ne!tral axis, th!s greatly red!cing the maxim!m tensile stress in the cast iron. 1hen !sed as a replacement for steel, CFRP bars co!ld be !sed to reinforce concrete str!ct!res, ho&ever the applications are not common.

CFRP co!ld be !sed as prestressing materials d!e to their high strength. The advantages of CFRP over steel as a prestressing material, namely its light &eight and corrosion resistance, sho!ld enable the material to be !sed for niche applications s!ch as in offshore environments. *o&ever, there are practical diffic!lties in anchorage of carbon fiber strands and applications of this are rare. $n the 3nited tates, Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipes (PCCP) acco!nt for a vast ma5ority of &ater transmission mains. =!e to their large diameters, fail!res of PCCP are !s!ally catastrophic and affect large pop!lations. 0pproximately ->,888 miles of PCCP have been installed bet&een -><8 and /88?. Corrosion in the form of hydrogen embrittlement has been blamed for the grad!al deterioration of the prestressing &ires in many PCCP lines. 'ver the past decade, CFRPs have been !tili(ed to internally line PCCP, res!lting in a f!lly str!ct!ral strengthening system. $nside a PCCP line, the CFRP liner acts as a barrier that controls the level of strain experienced by the steel cylinder in the host pipe. The composite liner enables the steel cylinder to perform &ithin its elastic range, to ens!re the pipeline4s long-term performance is maintained. CFRP liner designs are based on strain compatibility bet&een the liner and host pipe.6/7 CFRP is a more costly material than its co!nterparts in the constr!ction ind!stry, glass fiberreinforced polymer (#FRP) and aramid fiber-reinforced polymer (0FRP), tho!gh CFRP is, in general, regarded as having s!perior properties. %!ch research contin!es to be done on !sing CFRP both for retrofitting and as an alternative to steel as a reinforcing or prestressing material. Cost remains an iss!e and long-term d!rability ,!estions still remain. ome are concerned abo!t the brittle nat!re of CFRP, in contrast to the d!ctility of steel. Tho!gh design codes have been dra&n !p by instit!tions s!ch as the 0merican Concrete $nstit!te, there remains some hesitation among the engineering comm!nity abo!t implementing these alternative materials. $n part, this is d!e to a lac" of standardi(ation and the proprietary nat!re of the fiber and resin combinations on the mar"et, tho!gh this in itself is advantageo!s in that the material properties can be tailored to the desired application re,!irements.

[edit] Other applications

0 carbon fiber and @evlar canoe (Placid 2oat&or"s Rapidfire at the 0dirondac" Canoe Classic)

Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer has fo!nd a lot of !se in high-end sports e,!ipment s!ch as racing bicycles. For the same strength, a carbon-fiber frame &eighs less than a bicycle t!bing of al!min!m6citation needed7 or steel. The choice of &eave can be caref!lly selected to maximi(e stiffness. The variety of shapes it can be b!ilt into has f!rther increased stiffness and also allo&ed aerodynamic considerations into t!be profiles. Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer frames, for"s, handlebars, seatposts, and cran" arms are becoming more common on medi!m- and higher-priced bicycles. Carbon fiber-reinforced polymer for"s are !sed on most ne& racing bicycles. 'ther sporting goods applications incl!de rac"ets, fishing rods, longboards, and ro&ing shells. %!ch of the f!selage of the ne& 2oeing ABA =reamliner and 0irb!s 0:;8 C12 &ill be composed of CFRP, ma"ing the aircraft lighter than a comparable al!min!m f!selage, &ith the added benefit of less maintenance than"s to CFRP4s s!perior fatig!e resistance6citation needed7. =!e to its high ratio of strength to &eight, CFRP is &idely !sed in micro air vehicles (%0Ds). $n %0D T0R Pro5ect, the CFRP str!ct!res red!ce the &eight of the %0D significantly. $n addition, the high stiffness of the CFRP blades overcome the problem of collision bet&een blades !nder strong &ind. CFRP has also fo!nd application in the constr!ction of high-end a!dio components s!ch as t!rntables and lo!dspea"ers, again d!e to its stiffness. $t is !sed for parts in a variety of m!sical instr!ments, incl!ding violin bo&s, g!itar pic"g!ards, and a d!rable ebony replacement for bagpipe chanters. $t is also !sed to create entire m!sical instr!ments s!ch as 2lac"bird #!itars carbon fiber rider models, E!is and Clar" carbon fiber cellos, and %ix carbon fiber mandolins. $n firearms it can s!bstit!te for metal, &ood, and fiberglass in many areas of a firearm in order to red!ce overall &eight. *o&ever, &hile it is possible to ma"e the receiver o!t of synthetic material s!ch as carbon fiber, many of the internal parts are still limited to metal alloys as c!rrent synthetic materials are !nable to f!nction as replacements. hoe man!fact!rers may !se carbon fiber as a shan" plate in their bas"etball snea"ers to "eep the foot stable. $t !s!ally r!ns the length of the snea"er 5!st above the sole and is left exposed in some areas, !s!ally in the arch of the foot. CFRP is !sed, either as standard e,!ipment or in aftermar"et parts, in high-performance radiocontrolled vehicles and aircraft, i.a. for the main rotor blades of radio controlled helicopters -&hich sho!ld be light and stiff to perform := mane!vers. Fire resistance of polymers or thermoset composites is significantly improved if a thin layer of carbon fibers is molded near the s!rface -- dense, compact layer of carbon fibers efficiently reflects heat.6:7. Covers of Thin"pads from Eenovo+$2% and ony !se this technology.

Carbon fiber is a pop!lar material to form the handles of high-end "nives. This material is !sed &hen man!fact!riong s,!ash, tennis and badminton rac,!ets. Carbon-#raphite spars are !sed on the frames of high-end port "ites

[edit] nd of useful life!recycling


Carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs) have an almost infinite service lifetime &hen protected from the s!n, b!t, !nli"e steel alloys, have no end!rance limit &hen exposed to cyclic loading. 1hen it is time to decommission CFRPs, they cannot be melted do&n in air li"e many metals. 1hen free of vinyl (PDC or polyvinyl chloride) and other halogenated polymers, CFRPs can be thermally decomposed via thermal depolymeri(ation in an oxygen-free environment. This can be accomplished in a refinery in a one-step process. Capt!re and re!se of the carbon and monomers is then possible. CFRPs can also be milled or shredded at lo& temperat!re to reclaim the carbon fiber, ho&ever this process shortens the fibers dramatically. F!st as &ith do&ncycled paper, the shortened fibers ca!se the recycled material to be &ea"er than the original material. There are still many ind!strial applications that do not need the strength of f!ll-length carbon fiber reinforcement. For example, chopped reclaimed carbon fiber can be !sed in cons!mer electronics, s!ch as laptops. $t provides excellent reinforcement of the polymers !sed even if it lac"s the strength-to-&eight ratio of an aerospace component.