Carbon Fiber for Building Projects

Posted by on Apr 21, 2017 in Blog | No Comments

Carbon fiber is one of the most popular newer building materials. It is usually combined with other substances to form a composite material. Carbon fiber has become a go-to product because of its many advantages over traditional materials, including a high strength and low weight.

What is carbon fiber?

Carbon fiber (CF) consists of very thin strands of the element carbon. Each strand is 5-10 microns in diameter, similar to the size of a spider’s silk. The amount of carbon in the fiber and its orientation will determine its physical properties. Carbon fibers have a very high tensile strength and low weight.

Depending on the purpose of the end product, the fibers may be combined with metals, glass, or other materials. When combined with other materials, a binding matrix is used. Epoxy, vinyl, polyester, nylon and other additives may form the matrix.

Carbon FiberWhat are the advantages of carbon fiber?

Carbon fiber has many advantages over traditional materials.

  • High strength to weight ratio
  • Low deflection under stress
  • High-temperature tolerance
  • Corrosion-resistant and chemically stable
  • Electrically conductive – this can be a disadvantage as well
  • Fatigue-resistant
  • Good tensile strength
  • Fire-resistant
  • Thermally conductive
  • Low thermal expansion

The biggest advantage of CF is its strength (up to 5 times as strong as steel) and light weight (1/3 the weight of steel).

What are its uses?

Carbon fiber is a versatile material that can be used for many purposes. Due to its many advantages, most industries have adopted the use of CF products for consumer and industrial applications:

  • Construction reinforcing
  • Automobiles, planes, and boats
  • Bicycles, golf clubs, and other sporting goods
  • Protective clothing for firefighters
  • Military goods, including missiles, helmets, and aircraft
  • Home goods, including appliances
  • Medical goods, including artificial limbs & splints

How is carbon fiber used in construction?

For construction purposes, CF is used primarily as a reinforcing material. Its resistance to corrosion, high strength, and light weight make it uniquely effective in construction use.

Strength to weight ratio is the most outstanding characteristic of carbon fiber for construction. The biggest downside is cost. With building construction rarely needing extreme light weight, it would seem CF would not be an economical choice.

However, in situations where an existing structure requires reinforcement, CF is a very economical choice. Sometimes we are called in to give an opinion when a structure is deteriorating or failing. Foundation walls and bridges, for instance, may become inadequate over time due to weathering and changing conditions. In these cases, CF can be laminated to existing inadequate or damaged structures using epoxies. This solution helps clients to avoid costly demolition, rebuilding, and the resulting downtime.

We also like that it can be applied without adding bulk and thickness. Although it is expensive, it is a cost-effective solution for existing buildings where remediation is needed.

Carbon fiber has become a go-to product for many industries, including construction, because of its many advantages over traditional materials, including high strength and low weight.