Carbon Composite Technology

There are several methods of manufacturing carbon fibre products. Wet lay-up and resin-transfer-moulding (RTM) have higher resin content as the resin is applied to the fibre after it is placed in the mould and so the resulting products weigh more than higher end products that are made using Prepreg. Prepreg refers to sheets of carbon fibre which have been impregnated with minimal amounts of thermo-set resin before being cut to shape and fitted to the mould. 
Manufacturing carbon fibre products using prepreg typically requires:

  • hand laying the sheets of prepreg in a specific pattern that is engineered according to the stress and load applications of the given product
  • forming the layers around an inflatable bag which is custom shaped for that particular product
  • closing the mould and placing it in either a press or an autoclave, depending on the type of mould, then inflating the bag to pressures up to 150 psi
  • heating the mould in stages over a period of time to the required curing temperature
  • cooling the mould after the part has cooked before removing it

The cycle time for one mould could be 2 to 6 hours, depending on the part and the type of production setup. This is a very long time when compared to injection moulding which can spit out dozens or hundreds of parts per hour;

  • parts then go through preparation processes which could include
    • removal of the bag
    • sanding
    • joining of sections and inserts or other components
    • more sanding and touch ups
    • application of graphics
    • painting priming re-sanding re-painting etc
    • quality assurance checks etc.

For more information see:
http://www.answers.com/topic/carbon-fiber
http://www.itftennis.com/technical/equipment/rackets/history.asp
http://www.itftennis.com/technical/equipment/rackets/manufacture/index.asp
http://www.itftennis.com/technical/equipment/rackets/manufacture/preform.asp
http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/technologies.html

Products made from Carbon Fibre:

Because of the excellent stiffness and strength to weight ratios of Carbon Fibre it is used in a variety of sporting products including:

  • Tennis and Squash Rackets
  • Bicycles
  • High-end inline skates
  • Ski equipment  
  • Golf club shafts
  • Racing yachts and other sailing craft
  • Racing and sports cars

Carbon fibre baseball bats are banned from competition use because they hit the ball further and therefore change the parameters of the game.

Carbon fibre is used in the manufacture of modern commercial and military aircraft including the Air Bus A380 and the Stealth Bomber. It is also used to make the huge blades seen on generators in wind farms because no other material is stiff enough to make blades of such vast dimensions.

The Cost of Carbon Fibre itself is high because of the increased demand and the technology involved in making the actual carbon fibres http://www.answers.com/topic/carbon-fiber