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Difference Between Aluminum and Carbon Fiber

aluminumm-metal-pdAluminum vs Carbon Fiber

Aluminum is used in a lot of manufacturing processes, and carbon fiber is used for light weight manufacturing.

With the strength / mass comparison of aluminum and carbon fiber there are some other aspects that need to be considered, such as thermal resistance, water absorption, oxidation and durability.

Carbon fiber compared to aluminum does degrade quicker as the temperature gets hotter. Carbon fiber of top quality with a good sealant resin may not absorb water. Carbon fiber can oxidize and loose strength due to absorption. The oxidation level increases with temperature, and also with chemical contaminants. Carbon fiber is not as durable as aluminum. Carbon fiber is unpredictable, as analysis and failure results are not as controlled as they are in the case of aluminum. Carbon fiber shatters, and may crack or chip. Aluminum versus carbon fiber is cheaper, but carbon fiber is tensile and not ductile. Aluminum, on the other hand, is ductile, and bends easily.

Aluminum can also be soldered or welded, machined and extruded when compared to carbon fiber, which makes it easier to work with than carbon. Carbon fiber is molded then baked to create different shapes, and therefore is more expensive. Aluminum is also cost effective and very compromising when compared to carbon, which can be too expensive depending upon its quality. The molding process of carbon fiber is also slower than the aluminum manufacturing process.

Carbon fiber is preferred in strength to weight ratio for building airplanes, but at same time, deflection under the same weight matters a lot. Aluminum will bend at its deflection limit and carbon will shatter. Aluminum can be scratched and carbon fiber can bounce back without a scratch. Aluminum can resist increased heat, but carbon fibers may deform.

Carbon fiber, compared to aluminum, is a composite material, whereas aluminum is a metal. Aluminum may corrode, and is a better thermal conductor if compared with carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is used in the manufacturing of racing cars and expensive super cars, whereas aluminum alloys are used to make wheels and other parts. Aluminum is ductile, and can be wired thin, which is opposite to carbon fiber’s properties. Carbon fiber has amazing strength and extreme lightweight properties that contributes to good handling, especially at high speeds.

Carbon fiber is also used in conjunction with fiberglass, and aluminum is used in conjunction with other metals to make alloys.

Summary:

1. Aluminum is a metal, and alloys are made in conjunction with other metals.

2. Carbon fiber is also used in conjunction with fiberglass, and used for manufacturing racing cars.

3. Aluminum is heavier, may corrode, ductile, a good conductor and bends easily.

4. Carbon fiber is lightweight and does not bend, but it can shatter.

5. Aluminum can resist high and low temperatures compared to carbon which can shatter in colder climates and deform at higher temperatures.


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