Essay about The Discovery And Widespread Usage Of Composite Materials

Essay about The Discovery And Widespread Usage Of Composite Materials

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The discovery and widespread usage of composite materials has opened new doors in the manufacturing industry. Composites are materials composed of two or more different materials. The new material has distinct and superior structural properties than the individual component materials. The most ancient composite is adobe, which consists of straw reinforced clay and was commonly used as a building material [1]. Modern composites consist of a woven fiber, which reinforces a plastic polymer shell. Two major examples of modern composites are fiberglass and carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is a very new composite material and has a more recent history than materials such as steel and aluminum. Its origins can be traced to 1879, when Thomas Edison patented the usage of carbon filaments in electric lamps [2]. However, it was not until the 1960’s that high strength carbon fibered entered the commercial market [2]. In a relatively short period of time, carbon fiber revolutionized the manufacturing industry due to its low weight and superb structural properties. Carbon fiber is a composite material. Composite carbon fiber is composed of a woven carbon fiber which reinforces a polymer resin (usually epoxy) [3]. The carbon fibers themselves are polymers of graphite (which has a hexagonal sheet structure) rolled into a thin filament [2]. The tensile strength (resistance to tearing from being pulled) and Young’s Modulus (force required to stretch or compress a material) are extremely high in relation to the fiber’s weight. The internal strength of carbon fiber lies in the structure of the weave and the impact resistance comes from the hard plastic polymer shell. This paper will focus on the production process of Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) carbon fiber, t...


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...educe the total number of parts used to produce planes which further reduces production costs [12]. Carbon fiber also has applications in the energy industry. Implementation of carbon fiber in wind turbines and into more mass produced automobiles will soon be underway, which will improve renewable energy technology and reduce emissions.

In summation, PAN carbon fiber is redefining technology all around the world. By improving performance and efficiency, carbon fiber is paving the way for more sustainable products. Although current manufacturing techniques are energy intensive and costly, the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee is working with partners to make production more energy and cost effective [5]. Once carbon fiber production is streamlined, there are no limits to its applications in industries throughout the world.

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