Auto shows are quite common in a lot of cities around the world. It’s a great platform for both car manufacturers and customers to interact and get an understanding of both consumer demands as well as the new trends in car manufacturing and build. For consumers, whether you’re a car enthusiast or someone shopping around for your first vehicle, there’s definitely something new to learn with every car show.
Over the past few years, one trend has been making its presence felt in various forms and car parts: carbon fiber. Lightweight, durable, and very strong, it was commonly associated with luxury cars although, more recently, carbon fiber has found its way into various different industries such as jewelry and gadgets. It would be very interesting indeed to see just what the future holds for carbon fiber in auto companies.
The Challenge: High Costs of Production
Arguably, the factor that most keeps carbon fiber from being mass-manufactured and utilized in more cars and automotive applications is the high cost of production. Manufacturing carbon fiber would require a polymer precursor materials that can affect the quality of carbon fiber being produced. Now these precursor materials don’t come cheap at all, and the processes (both chemical and mechanical) necessary to turn these precursor materials is quite often time-consuming. What’s worse is that the carbon yields are often low.
The good news is that there already are processes that have been considered ready for commercialization even back in 2014. Many of these processes can already hit targets that are generally what would be classified as the high-volume threshold. Hence, the process of manufacturing carbon fiber should certainly not be considered a hindrance to the continued and increasing use of carbon fiber in the automotive industry in the future.
Use of Hybrid Fibers
Hybrid fibers might be the way to go to create more efficient materials utilized for car making, although that is currently a process in itself that still needs additional development and research. Alternative and more effective precursors would need to be identified in order to better create these hybrid fibers, which could pave the way for more low-cost fibers to be available for auto companies to use in the near future.
Carbon Fiber Increased Uses
Although carbon fiber has been used most notably in the automotive industry, it has since gone on to be used in industries beyond car making. Carbon fiber is a great material to use in aerospace technology, and has also been applied to marine and the energy sectors. Nowadays, it isn’t uncommon to find carbon fiber phone cases and wallets in the market, which shows just how much ground has been covered over the past few years for the material to be used even in gadgets and personal products. As the process of producing carbon fiber gets honed and perfected over time, so will the number of accepted uses that carbon fiber has increase – and across a wider range of industries, at that.
Overall, the future looks bright for carbon fiber in the automotive industry. And with both car companies and carbon fiber manufacturers working hand in hand to come up with a target price that will help push the material into more and more affordable uses, we can surely expect better things to come concerning carbon fiber in the future!