What Is Carbon Weaving?

Carbon fibers are composed mostly of carbon atoms and are popular for their varied usage across industries due to their high tensile strength, high stiffness, lightweight, high chemical resistance, low thermal expansion and high-temperature tolerance. Due to the presence of these properties, carbon fibers have found extensive usage in aerospace, military, chemical engineering, and competitive sports industries.

Technical textiles can be understood as the semi-finished or finished textile products manufactured for their performance characteristics. Technical textiles are used in industrial, medical, civil engineering, protective and leisure applications. Carbon fibres have triggered many developments in this segment of high-performance fibres and yarns. In the textile industry, carbon weaving is still a very new concept. Its use in textiles is limited, as various special types of equipment and auxiliary attachments (like waste saving devices) are needed with looms to make fabrics out of carbon fibers. Thus this technology is restricted to certain developed economies which enjoy a high level of technological advancement in their textile industry.

Fabric Structure

The raw material used for making carbon fiber is known as the precursor. Around 90% of the total carbon fiber production is from polyacrylonitrile (PAN), and the remaining 10% comes from rayon or petroleum pitch. These materials are all organic polymers with long strings of molecules that are bound together by carbon atoms. The exact composition of each precursor varies from producer to producer. The carbon atoms in the fiber are bonded together in a parallel alignment along the axis of the fiber. This crystal alignment gives the strength to the fiber.

Spools of these carbon fibers are then woven into fabrics. Depending on the need of the output, the weave of the fabric can be selected as Plain, Twill, Satin, etc. the choice of weave affects the aesthetic appearance of the woven fabric.

Limitations of Carbon Fiber

In 2012, the global demand estimated for carbon fiber was around $1.7 billion, with a projected growth of up to 12% from 2012 to 2018. The maximum demand came from the aerospace, wind energy and automotive industries. Although, carbon fibers are relatively expensive than glass or plastic fibers limiting their widespread use; their cost premium has significantly gone down in the past decade.  But, still, the high cost of carbon fibers and the machinery required to develop textile products out of it is the biggest deterrent to its widespread use.

For carbon weaving, special attachments and devices are needed with the looms. Heats setting devices to manufacture unidirectional carbon fiber fabrics and waste saving devices are some examples of the same. Also, loom versatility is a crucial consideration for carbon weaving to suit the changing market trends and requirements. Protective clothing and gear for operators and overhead chimney above the loom to absorb the fluffs generated are also crucial to prevent injury and health issues.


1. Aerospace and Automobile Industry

Carbon fiber actually originated for use in aerospace industry (due to its superior strength to weight ratio), but its usage has now expanded to the automotive industry as well. RW Carbon (manufacturer of exterior and interior parts for BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, and Tesla) uses carbon fiber in manufacturing automotive parts like front lip spoilers, rear diffusers, trunk spoilers, trunks, hood, etc.

2. Sports

Carbon fiber has also gained its special place in sporting goods. It is another market that is ready to shell out more for higher performance. Hence, Tennis rackets, golf clubs, softball bats, racing bicycles, hockey sticks, etc. are all being manufactured by carbon fibers. Lighter weight equipment without compromising strength acts like a distinctive advantage for sports.

3. Specialty Textiles

Carbon fabrics have found use in high-temperature applications (like filtration of high-temperature gases) and flexible heating applications due to its conductivity properties. Hence its use is seen in blankets and heating clothing, but this material folded n itself leads to higher heat production which can also result in a fire in some cases.

4. Military

Carbon fiber textiles have also found use in military equipment like helmets and safety gear.

5. Medical Industry

Due to its ‘radiolucent’ property, these textiles are transparent to X-rays and show as black on the X-ray images. Hence, carbon fibers are used in medical applications like imaging equipment to support limbs or radiation treatments. They are also used in prosthetic limbs.

6. Environmental applications

Carbon has high absorption properties, and hence fabric made from carbon fiber can act as a potent chemical purifier.

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