Carbon FiberCarbon fibre is more than twice as strong as ultra high strength steel and, more importantly, three times stiffer. Carbon fiber was developed in the search to make things strong enough for the task at hand, but having minimum weight. Even with the fibre properties diluted by the presence of the (relatively) weak epoxy matrix, carbon fiber incorporated into a structural laminate results in a product with superior strength to alloy steel, and only slightly inferior stiffness, when the comparison is done on the basis of volume. When weight is taken into account (finished laminates with as little resin as possible weigh about the same as magnesium), laminates based on carbon surpass all metals, and most other fiber reinforced plastics.
Concerns about brittleness have substantially been allayed as carbon fibre has now been used in large sections of the DC-10 aircraft rudder, in much of the newer Airbus aircraft and in the Boeing 767. It has also found wide application in the race car world.
To realize the benefits of Carbon Fiber, it is important to design the composite so that the correct quantity of carbon fibres are oriented in the correct directions to absorb the load, and that the amount of resin is the minimum amount needed to fully wet out and fill the spaces between the fibres. Peel ply is very useful in reducing the excess amount of resin. Vacuum bag or vacuum infusion can also assist greatly in optimizing the carbon fibre to resin ration.