What is Carbon Fiber, and How Does it Compare to Alloys?

If you know a little about carbon fiber, you are likely aware that it is a composite material. But is carbon fiber an alloy? Like alloy metals, carbon fiber is made from two or more individual materials. However, metal alloys and carbon fiber composites are quite different. If you are considering using carbon fiber for your project, understanding its properties and what it is ideal is a good starting point.

At Spartec Composites, we have specialized in the design and manufacturing of carbon composite materials and carbon fiber molding for more than 40 years. We know that you have questions about carbon fiber’s strength and also about the carbon fiber manufacturing process. In this post, we outline what you should know about carbon fiber including how it compares to metal alloys. To discover more about carbon fiber and see if it is the ideal material for your project, contact Spartec Composites.

What is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber is the general term for reinforced plastics. It is created by combining carbon fibers with another material, often a specific type of plastic. There are different types of carbon fiber and depending on the type of carbon fiber created, it may be lighter or stronger than other types. Overall, carbon fiber is a very strong and lightweight material that can be used in a variety of applications. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all carbon fiber materials are created equally.

See our post, What is Carbon Fiber Anyways?, for additional information on carbon fiber.

What Makes Carbon Fiber Different from an Alloy?

Carbon fiber and metal alloys are both created by combining two or more materials, though they are not considered to be the same type of material. Alloys are created when combining metal with another metal or non-metallic element. Carbon fiber is not a metallic material and, when combined with plastic, is not considered an alloy.

Is Carbon Fiber Stronger than an Alloy?

Carbon fiber is an attractive material choice for many applications. A strong material that offers stiffness, lightness, heat and chemical resistance, there are countless reasons to consider carbon fiber. When comparing a carbon fiber material to an alloy, in some ways you are comparing apples to oranges. Common alloys such as stainless steel, bronze, and nickel silver cannot compare to the strength of carbon fiber and have overall very different properties. However, steel is one alloy that is often compared to carbon fiber.

Steel is known for its strength and is used in construction and other commercial applications. The strongest carbon fiber can be up to 10x stronger than steel. However, this doesn’t mean that carbon fiber is always the preferred material choice. See our post, Is Carbon Fiber Stronger Than Steel, for additional information on how carbon fiber compares to steel and when it can be the superior option.
When considering carbon fiber composites for your project, there are many factors that should be considered. Choosing an experienced carbon fiber manufacturer is your best option to ensure your chosen material is high quality and tailored to your specific goals.