Understanding Carbon Fibre: Is Carbon Fibre a Polymer?

Are you considering using carbon fibre for your next project? Carbon fibre is an exceptionally strong and versatile material. However, understanding exactly what carbon fibre is and what it is best suited for can sometimes feel a bit confusing. The beauty of carbon fibre is that it can be made to suit the properties you need it for. To help you understand if carbon fibre composites are right for you, we dive into carbon fibre and help you understand how it relates to polymers.

At Spartec Composites, we have specialized in the design and manufacturing of carbon composite materials and carbon fibre moulding for more than 40 years and are your source for custom carbon fibre composites. We have the experience and expertise you expect when looking for carbon fibre engineering, carbon fibre cutting and carbon fibre moulding services. Contact us today to learn how we can help you bring your idea to fruition.

What Is a Polymer?

Polymers are large molecules made up of smaller building blocks called monomers that can be combined in a variety of ways. What makes polymers unique is that they can be arranged in different ways and have different properties, depending on the monomers used and how they are linked. This versatility allows polymers to have a wide range of uses in our everyday life. Some examples of polymer products include plastics, rubber, and other products such as adhesives and coatings.

Is Carbon Fibre a Polymer?

Carbon fibre itself is not a polymer, but it is made from a polymer precursor called polyacrylonitrile (PAN) or pitch. It goes through a process called carbonization to convert the precursor material into carbon fibre. During the carbonization process, the polymer precursor undergoes high temperatures in an oxygen-limited environment. This causes the breakdown of the polymer’s molecular structure and the removal of non-carbon elements, such as hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen.

As a result, carbon atoms are left behind, arranged in a highly ordered and aligned manner. This arrangement gives carbon fibre its exceptional strength, stiffness, and lightness. The carbon atoms form strong covalent bonds, offering excellent mechanical properties compared to other materials.

For more information on what carbon fibre is, see our post, What is Carbon Fibre, and How Does it Compare to Alloys?

What are Common Applications for Carbon Fibre?

Carbon fibre’s unique properties make it a popular choice in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, sports equipment, and construction. It is known for its high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures. However, carbon fibre is not always the best material for every project. Contact us today to explore composite material options, and let us help you find the ideal solution for your application and budget.

If you feel that carbon fibre composite would be the ideal material choice for your product, contact the experts at Spartec Composites. With in-house composite manufacturing and composite fabrication services, you can count on us for a more comprehensive and quality experience. Let us help you take your project from an idea on paper to a finished product.