Everything You Want to Know About Carbon Fiber
Carbon Fibers, a new book by Soo-Jin Park, (Department of Chemistry at Inha Univ, Incheon, Republic of Korea) is an in-depth review of carbon fiber as a material: its sources, manufacturing process, physical properties, and uses. We confess that we have not read the entire book, and this is not a review, merely a report.
Most people know carbon fiber as that alluringly shiny black stuff baked in the plastic of high-end tennis racquets, etc. Many have also heard that it’s used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The fiber itself is an incredibly strong, supple material, often found in flat ribbons of fiber that are woven into a fabric. It’s so strong that it’s used to repair buildings and concrete bridges. It is also notoriously expensive, although in some construction applications, its performance and simplicity of installation may still make it more cost effective than traditional building materials.
It can be derived from several different sources, “precursor” materials that have high carbon content, chiefly either PAN (polyacrylonitrile), petroleum pitch, coal pitch, or rayon. Although each precursor requires a different carbonization process, they are all treated by some form of heating and stretching that produces a highly oriented fiber that is 92%-100% carbon.
The book goes into great technical depth about the precursors and processes for making the fiber. It also discusses a long list of resins used for the matrices of carbon fiber composites, about 27 different resins. Then it discusses the treatment of the fiber prior to its incorporation into a composite. Having delved into all the materials, finally, there is extensive discussion of the different manufacturing processes for layup, molding, and curing of carbon fiber composites. There are also chapters on testing carbon fibers and their composites, and the some overview of current applications. There is even a chapter on possible future applications.
The book may best be described as an “in-depth overview” of the entire subject. Just about every topic connected with carbon fiber is covered, but it is not a complete handbook for each of the processes discussed.