Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber — by far the most widely used fiber in high-performance applications — is produced from a variety of precursors, including polyacrylonitrile (PAN), rayon and pitch. The precursor fibers are heated and stretched to create the high-strength fibers. The first high-performance carbon fibers on the market were made from rayon precursor. PAN- and pitch-based fiber have replaced rayon-based fiber in most applications, but the latter’s “dogbone” cross-section often makes it the fiber of choice for carbon/carbon (C/C) composites. PAN-based carbon fibers are the most versatile and widely used. They offer an amazing range of properties, including excellent strength — to 1,000 ksi — and high stiffness. Pitch fibers, made from petroleum or coal tar pitches, have high to extremely high stiffness and low to negative axial CTE. Their CTE properties are especially useful in spacecraft applications that require thermal management, such as electronic instrumentation housings. Although they are stronger than glass or aramid fibers, carbon fibers are not only less impact-resistant but also can experience galvanic corrosion in contact with metal. Fabricators overcome the latter problem by using a barrier material or veil ply — often fiberglass/epoxy — during laminate layup.
saildrone
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Drones: Unpiloted composite vehicles head out to sea

Although the term drone for the most part has been synonymous with machines built to fly, sailboat drones designed and built by Saildrone (Alameda, CA, US) are poised to replace for expensive (and manned) research ships and stationary buoy systems that now gather marine data.
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Drones: Composite UAVs take flight

First seen in defense applications, unpiloted aircraft development is surging in the commercial world, enabled by a host of new material, process and assembly technologies.

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Airtech launches new carbon fiber prepregs

The company’s LTC3 prepregs are said to offer a low temperature cure and high temperature use after post cure, and allow the use of lower cost master model materials.