June 12, 2021

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All About Cutting, Machining And The Special Properties Of Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is often called as graphite fiber. Today’s manufacturing industry looks for materials that have lighter weights and more strength. This ensures efficiency and safety in production. Carbon fiber panels or composites are the perfect solutions catering to the requirements of the manufacturers. These materials not just have huge compressive strength but also have low coefficients for thermal expansion. The ratio of strength to weight of carbon fiber is also quite high.

When compared to steel, which quite an important material for the manufacturing industries, carbon fiber has more strength and lower density than it. This vital factor in carbon fibers has made it so much popular in the industry these days.

Special Properties Of Carbon Fiber:

  • High Electric Conductivity: Carbon fibers have excellent properties, among which this one is quite a useful one for the companies involved in shipbuilding. The high electric conductivity of the carbon fibers helps in the perfect installation of the machines by facilitating galvanic corrosion.
  • Fire Resistant: If you are looking for materials that are resistant to fire, then carbon fiber can be your best pick. They are delicate materials that get used in designing defensive clothes for firefighting.
  • Chemically Stable And Corrosion Resistant: Carbon fibers never deteriorate on their own. Unlike epoxies, which are sensitive to sunlight, carbon fibers are chemically stable materials.
  • High Tensile Strength: Tensile strength is the maximum strength that a material can bear when putting under tension before it breaks. Carbon fibers have quite good tensile strength. They can bear high levels of stress and tension before getting broken.
  • Ex-Ray Permeable And Non-Poisonous: Carbon fibers have multiple useful properties which make them fit for various medical applications. They get used in x-ray machines, tendon implants, and repair and surgical instruments. They are non-poisonous and thus, there is no fear of the material getting toxic with prolonged exposure.

Multiple Applications Of Carbon Fiber Composites:

There are various sectors of the economy in which carbon fiber panels and composites are getting used. Some of the vital applications are listed here below:

  • Marine and road transport
  • Sporting and racing goods
  • Aerospace
  • Missiles, fighter planes, and defense equipment
  • Automobile hoods
  • Robot arms
  • RF and EMI shielding
  • Textile machinery
  • The nuclear and chemical industry
  • Radiological equipment

Tips To Machining Carbon Fiber Sheets:

The enhanced use of the material in various industries requires the specimens to get machine tested. Machining carbon fiber sheets can be quite challenging for the various machine shops. Here are the best tips to follow.

  • Waterjet: This is quite a convenient and fast method of machining carbon fiber. In Waterjet cutting, you do not require any special equipment to start the process. When you require tight tolerances, Waterjet is the best process to apply for machining carbon fibers.
  • Milling: You can get the carbon fiber machined using the router, but standard methods for machining can also get used. The spindle speed required for machining carbon fiber must be higher as compared to other metals. However, the feed rates, while machining the material must be lower. The thermal conductivity in carbon fiber is quite low and thus, most of the heat remains in the material while the machining takes place. As the heat does not get dissipated, it can damage the resin of the material. So, while machining carbon fiber, a tool path must get used, which can control the heat and protect the resin.
  • Drilling: This is quite a difficult method for machining carbon fibers. The speed of drilling must get adjusted depending on the depth and size of the hole that you want on the carbon fiber sheet. Specially designed drill bits on carbon fiber sheets help in eliminating delamination during the process of drilling.

Remember that the dust that gets accumulated while machining carbon fibers are conductive. They can migrate into the electronics. So, vacuum the dust particles after the machining gets completed so that your electronic items do not get harmed. Use gloves and mask while cleaning these particles as they can irritate the human skin as well. The machining of carbon fibers might sound complicated for beginners, but once you understand the properties of the material well, the process turns quite simple.

Safety Measures For Cutting Carbon Fiber:

As already specified above, the dust particles of carbon fiber can be quite harmful to the human body and skin. Here are some precautions that you must follow while cutting carbon fiber:

  • Long sleeves paint suit
  • Mechanical or leather gloves on the hands
  • Respiratory mask
  • Good ventilation in the room
  • Eye protection

No Tooling Expenses Required For 2D Carbon Fiber:

The best part of using carbon fiber in the 2D shape is that there is no tooling cost involved at all. You can even design complex 3D structures by using 2D carbon fibers. The structures get bonded together with the use of epoxy adhesives. Whereas, in the case of other metals, you require doing welding to put the materials together, which is quite time-consuming and expensive. Molding of carbon fiber components together saves the time of the manufacturers and is also a cost-saving process.

The holographic look of carbon fiber is another beautiful characteristic of the material that makes it so much famous in the market. There are multiple complex weaves inside the material which contains tiny filaments.

These patterns help to reflect light and give the material a good shine. Your entire project gets that perfect aesthetic and unique look with the use of carbon fiber. The use of carbon fiber composites can be quite tricky at times, but if you can make the correct application of the material in your manufacturing process, the results can be magical.

You also require being quite particular while choosing the suppliers of carbon fiber composites. Choose experts in the field who can handle complex projects involving the fabrication and manufacture of carbon fibers. The aerospace and aviation industries require the highest-grade of carbon fiber materials for their products to be of the top qualities.

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