How To Tell If Carbon Fiber Is Real
Recent reports claim that many so-called carbon fiber materials are actually made of normal, noncarbon fibers mixed together with small amounts of expensive carbons. This is called “synthetic” or “plasticized” carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber is an amazing material that was first discovered in 1965. It is manufactured by heating synthetic polymers (large molecules consisting of repeated simple chemical structures) to very high temperatures. When these hot polymer strips are pulled rapidly through a fluid such as liquid nitrogen, they take on more electrons and become solid wires of pure carbon!
This process is tricky because you have to make sure that the polymer doesn’t completely burn off, but instead only partially oxidizes. Otherwise, what’s left would not conduct electricity well and you’d have broken your product!
Once it is cooled down, these thin, lightweight, strong sheets can be stacked onto each other to create very light weight, strong products we call carbon fiber composites. Because there is no air gap between layers, this composite is extremely sturdy and hard to break. For example, the half mile long runway at LAX is made mostly of carbon fiber composites!
Unfortunately, due to its cost, carbon fiber has been limited to niche applications like race cars and space ships.
Look at the color
There are two main types of carbon fiber, colored and white. The colors include shades of gray, black, blue, green, and many others!
Carbon fibers can be mixed in with other materials to create lighter or heavier products dependent upon the ratio of carbon fiber you use. This is one way that manufacturers make sure your furniture and equipment will remain light and sturdy but also functional.
For example, I would recommend buying some test pieces before investing in the rest of the material. Test out a few feet either all-white or all-colored carbon fiber to see how it looks and what effect they have on your furniture or gear.
Sadly, not everyone sells true carbon fiber so it may be hard to tell if this product is fake or not. However, there are things you can look for to determine if this material is real or not!
Reader Advisory: May contain traces of asbestos
The most important thing to check for is whether or not the manufacturer lists any kind of asbestos as an ingredient. If it does, then this material is definitely not carbon fiber! Asbestos was once used to give carbon its special glow and strength, making it very popular.
Look at the quality
Carbon fiber is an incredible material that’s got people all excited these days! It’s definitely not wrong, but it must be done right to achieve true value. As you research carbon fibers, make sure to look for high-quality products!
Carbon fibers are made of pure carbon molecules, so they can sometimes appear white or light gray in color. However, this isn’t always the case due to additives such as dyes or other chemicals used during processing.
It is important to know what types of additives are allowed under automotive regulations, but otherwise check to see if there are any warnings about the product being unsuitable for use in cars. Make sure to do your homework before buying!
Beware of cheap brands
Just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s better. In fact, some manufacturers may add additional materials or chemicals to improve the performance of their carbon fiber, but at the cost of reducing durability.
As with anything, there is no perfect balance between performance and longevity when it comes to carbon fiber, but the more expensive versions usually offer greater consistency than less expensive ones.
Look at the wear
The more carbon fiber you look at, the higher quality it will be! You can tell how well someone took care of their material by the amount of “wear” there is on it.
Carbon fibers are very strong, which means they can handle lots of impacts without breaking or cracking. As your see above, whoever made this piece cut holes in the surface to expose the inner layer. This shows that they wanted to show off the beauty of the material even though it was meant to be hidden beneath another item.
Ask the seller for proof
It is very difficult to tell whether or not carbon fiber that you have seen or touched is authentic, unless you have an expert in hand.
Carbon fibers are made of pure oxygen atoms arranged into long chains, just like glass! Therefore, it is possible to add other elements such as nitrogen or hydrogen to make it more rigid and durable.
However, there are many companies that use additives to increase cost-effectiveness. Some examples include polyacrylonitrile (PAN) and pitch, which contain heavy metals such as chromium or vanadium. These additions help give your material some extra strength, but they also increase costs.
If you’re ever unsure about whether or not carbon fiber is fake, ask for pictures and/or samples. Most experts will be able to identify if what you have received is real by looking at it, asking questions about it, or both.
Use a substance to weigh it
A good way to tell whether or not carbon fiber is fake is by looking at how much of it there is. If there is a lot, then it is probably real.
Carbon fibers are made out of pure carbon, so they will always be solid and heavy. They are sometimes mixed in with other materials, however, which could make them seem lighter.
Since there should be enough carbon for it to be visible, this would prove that it is indeed carbon fiber. It may also be hard and strong, making it more durable than normal steel.
However, just because it looks like carbon fiber does not mean it is authentic. There are many ways to create inexpensive carbon products that contain little or no actual carbon.
Use a substance to test it
There are several ways to determine whether or not carbon fiber is real. You can use silk as one of your testing substances.
Carbon fibers require large amounts of heat in order to be melted down and shaped into various products. The combustion process produces very high levels of oxygen, which makes the material burn really quickly. This could potentially cause explosions in the workplace, so employers must do an inspection for combustible materials before letting workers handle them.
Because there’s such a short window during which carbonization takes place, we only have a few days to identify fake carbon fiber.
Ask how the seller obtained it
There are several ways that carbon fiber is manufactured, with most companies using either chemical vapor infiltration (CVI) or liquid infusion (LIX). CVI requires baking a thin layer of resin in an oxygen-free environment, where then the next step is to infiltrate those layers of resin with small amounts of methane gas. When the process is done, you have glassine carbon fibers!
Liquid infusion uses polymers as molecules for the resin, which are mixed into liquids such as alcohols and ketones. These chemicals are then spun into long strands of carbon fiber, which are later heated up and drawn out. The length of these strings can be adjusted during this stage to create thinner or thicker sheets of carbon fiber – just make sure they’re still strong enough!
Both CVI and LIX require large quantities of fossil fuel energy to run the machines that produce the carbon fibers.
Ask how to wash it
One of the first things you should do is ask how this material washes. Most brands will tell you that their carbon fiber clothing is easy to wash, but some may offer less information or even say that it cannot be machine washed.
Carbon fibers are extremely durable materials so most manufacturers simply use an extra protective layer to keep them from getting damaged or scratched during washing. This layer usually consists of polyester fabric or nylon mesh.
However, there are some companies that feel that these additives can break down and wear off over time which could affect the performance of your garment. In these cases, the manufacturer may not recommend using a dryer nor washing in water, only in a dishwasher.