Carbon Fiber – Just Because We Can
There are a lot of great consumer products made better by manufacturing with carbon fiber. Golf clubs and tennis rackets immediately come to mind. Then there are other products that do not seem to benefit at all from the space-age material. They seem to be designed with carbon fiber added only as a novelty. It is like designers are saying, “we use carbon fiber just because we can.”
Engineers at Salt Lake City’s Rock West Composites explain that this material is often chosen for manufacturing because carbon fiberhas an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. They say that it’s possible to create very complex designs with carbon fiber as well. In short, you can do things with carbon fiber that you cannot do with steel, aluminum, or wood.
Carbon Fiber Musical Instruments
Manufacturing musical instruments is one example that demonstrates using carbon fiber to do things that couldn’t be done with other materials. To start with, you could not make a steel or aluminum acoustic guitar and end up with a product that musicians would actually want. The two materials are too heavy and lacking in the acoustic qualities you want in a guitar.
Wood works well enough, but it isn’t very durable. A wood acoustic guitar has to be treated with a lot of care and respect if you want to maximize its life. However, building an acoustic guitar with carbon fiber is an entirely different matter.
Carbon fiber offers strength and rigidity that exceeds aluminum and steel. At the same time, it is light weight and largely unaffected by temperature, humidity, chemicals, and other things that would ruin a wood guitar. And even with all that, a carbon fiber guitar body is more than capable of producing the rich acoustic sounds musicians appreciate.
It is apparent that making acoustic guitars from carbon fiber improves the overall product in ways that are tangible and practical. You could make the same case about carbon fiber golf clubs and tennis rackets. You cannot say that about every carbon fiber product on the market.
The Carbon Fiber Wallet
Carbon fiber wallets are all the rage these days among gadget lovers. There is one particular design that doesn’t seem to make sense. It combines an aluminum chassis with a carbon fiber overlay. In this design, the carbon fiber offers no functional purpose. It is simply there for aesthetics.
There is nothing wrong with producing or buying such a wallet, by the way. But an aluminum-carbon fiber wallet seems to be the very example of using carbon fiber just because you can. Again, that’s great. If a company wants to make carbon fiber wallets and customers want to buy them, more power to everyone involved!
You Know What You’re Getting
The point of all of this is to say that it is important to know what you are getting when you purchase carbon fiber consumer products. Just because a manufacturer employs carbon fiber in a product design does not mean that the product in question is better for it. There are lots of consumer products that utilize carbon fiber for no other reason than the novelty of doing so.
Why does this matter? Because carbon fiber is expensive. Fabricating with it adds to the cost of any consumer product. Thus, carbon fiber that has no functional purpose adds to the price of a product exclusively for aesthetic reasons. Such products might not be worth purchasing.
On the other hand, carbon fiber that improves the function and/or performance of a given product might be worth the extra money. It is a matter of counting the cost. That’s all this is about.