The basic material itself is not responsible for the high price of carbon-fiber products, this is caused by the processing. The procedure has already been known for a half a century. Nevertheless, no-one has yet succeeded in making the production process economically viable. Thereby, the economic processing would indeed, certainly be desirable because carbon fibers have fascinating characteristics as far as the motor industry is concerned. They are extremely lightweight and exceptionally stable. Since the introduction of the material, e.g., the number of fatal accidents among formula-one racing drivers, has been drastically reduced. Using carbon fibres, very much safer compact cars would be possible, not to mention the fuel consumption savings. In addition, there is the possibility of a variety of shapes. They are already used, e.g., for engine cowlings, brake discs, even wheel rims, exhaust systems and chassis (see above pictures).
The basic material is simply crude oil from which the individual fibers are exteracted. Similar to the product made by silkworms, one thread is not sufficient, thousands of them must be bundled together. This is followed by the process of carbonisation. Through chemical influencing and gradually increased temperatures, almost all that's left over, are the carbon atoms, most of which are brought, through this complex treatment, into the same (linear) direction. The properties of the mats developed in this process, are very much dependant on their directional characteristics. It depends a great deal on how the various mats are joined together using epoxide resin. Thus, not only the form, but also the directional stress must be carefully considered when joining the mats. Added to the complications, the planning of this process is also very expensive. The correct production process of the end product is not always visible to the consumer, therefore, a certain amount of trust in the manufacturer is necessary when purchasing such expensive products. Nowadays one speaks of glass-fiber-reinforced-plastics. In this case, research and the industry are trying very hard to produce moulded parts in a harmonized fashion on an assembly-line. In this age of the just-in-time-production, no manufacturer has any longer got the space to allow the daily production of maybe 1000 synthetic components, to harden. At the moment, 10 or less minutes is a realistic target for the time it takes to get the fiber material into the very small gap between the upper- and the lower mold, fill it with resin and to put it under pressure. The exact position of the fibers and their gaps is determined by an additional plastic layer, before the insertion. 12/11