DetailingWiki Newsletter
    Get free and automatic updates on new articles
    We respect your privacy. No data is used for anything other than sending the newsletter!


What is carbon fiber

Written by:

Carbon Fiber is a material that is made up out of extremely thin fibers of carbon. The fibers of roughly 5 to 10 micrometer are build out of stretched carbonfibercrystals. A few thousand of these fibers are woven together to form 1 wire of carbonfiber.

Carbon fiber and its strength

Carbon fiber is famous for having incredible strength, but this is not only achieved by the fiber itself. The carbon fibers are usually combined with resin where the fibers form the strengthening force within the final product. Similar to reinforced concrete, where the steel bars add strength to the concrete block. Carbon fiber with resin creates a very light products with an incredible strength and resistance to deformation. Due to its formation, carbon fibers have the characteristic to resist oxidation by water of oxygen, has a relatively low density with a very high tensile-strength and a low expansion-coefficient. This makes it ideal for use in aircrafts, the car industry, certain sport-accessories and construction.

Carbon fiber in detailing

Because of the combination with resin and the carbon fibers, you end up with a transparent layer of resin with a smooth surface. Within this resin you can see the fibers inside the resin. The smooth surface is visible on the outside and is one of many surfaces that can suffer from surface imperfections. Polishing this surface will increase gloss and improve appearance. Due to its unique pattern and look, the “carbon-look” has become popular with car fanatics and tuners. The woven look of the fibers creates a very unique reflective pattern, making it stand out when light hits it from a certain angle. Although most accessories are either covered by a carbon-fiber wrap, or hydro-dipped to make it look like carbon fiber, there are very little items that are actually made out of true carbon fiber. This is mostly due to the very high prices to create custom shapes with real carbon fiber.
Another popular method, is to create a shape out of glass fiber and then cover the last few layers with a woven material that resembles carbon fiber. Even thos the glass fibers offer high strength, and the resin is still designed to cure to a very hard finish, the end product will not be as extremely strong as real carbon-fiber.

Although some have become interested in the unique look of carbon fiber, there are many cases where the material is painted to create a more common cosmetic effect. For example, the McLaren F1 uses a full body carbon fiber shell, that is covered with normal automotive paint. The end product offers very high strength, low weight, no rust or other form of oxidation that is very rigid. The body shell itself is strong enough to withstand deformation and can form as a strengthening factor for the entire vehicle. The paint used on this body can be regular automotive paint and can be polished as normal. From the outside, it is not possible to see the difference. A small downside might be that the heat dissipation is different, which might cause you to keep a closer eye on raising surface temperatures.

Carbon fiber reinforced polymers

Besides the use within resin, the strong fibers can also be used within other products. One of these products is plastic, where the fibers can be used within the plastic to reinforce it in a similar way as the steel bars within reinforced concrete. The type of resin, polymer or thermoset used in this setup is often based upon a resin-like material such as polyester, vinylester or nylon. The composite could be made from different type of fibers, such as aramid (aka Kevlar), aluminium or glass fibers. In some cases, these materials are even combined to create a product with very specific characteristics.

Other uses of carbon fiber

Although there are numerous applications for carbon fiber in many different ways or forms, a detailer can find several carbon components on some type of cars. Certain supercars use carbon-brakes. Although these are not the same as carbon fiber, the rough material can be compared to one another. Carbon brakes do not bleed from a fallout remover, don’t contain any iron.
Certain suspension components can also be made from carbon fiber, which can be difficult to clean or polish. The resin has a higher hardness then regular automotive paint, which makes it more difficult to remove surface imperfections.
There is a very large difference between carbon fiber wraps and real carbon fiber. The “fakes” only offer the looks of the product, not the strength and other properties.

Different related articles

  • What are alloy wheels
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    Alloy wheels are specific wheels have been made out of aluminium or magnesium, with certain other elements added. They can come in various shapes and sizes and even the finish can differ greatly between models or brands....
  • What are microfibers
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    Microfibers are a fabric that is designed to have certain characteristics. The microscopic fibers of this synthetic fabric can be made to have certain properties by design. Making them excel at certain tasks....
  • What are wiper marks
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    Wiper marks are surface imperfections in the direction and line that windscreen wipers move. Simply put, these are marks in the glass caused by the movement of the windscreen wipers. They can affect your vision and are difficult te remove....
  • Variables that play a part in polishing results
    Polishing a certain surface, using a certain technique will not always yield the same results. This is one of the difficult parts about detailing. There are many different variables that play a part in the result you want to achieve. Getting these all lined up will give great results in short time with ease....
  • Adam’s polishes
    Adam's Polishes is a detailing product manufacturer from Kentucky, America. They offer a wide variety of detailing products and or only one of a few brands that offer a 100% money back guarantee. ...
  • What is wiper judder
    Wiper judder refers to "jumping" wipers that shake/jump/judder when moving over the windscreen. The rubber from the windscreen wiper sticks to the glass surface even though the wiper arm continues to move. The rubber "jumps" over the surface instead of gliding smoothly over the glass....

Links to this article

There are no external links to this article. Yet.

Stay up to date with our free newsletter
Always be the first to know about new updates, articles and other informative content.
Don't miss out, opt in!
We respect your privacy. No data is used for anything other than sending the newsletter!