Browse our website and it quickly becomes apparent that you can buy carbon fiber tubing, rods, plates, and more from Cubicarbon. But you might ask yourself, "Is that all there is?" What about all those exciting things you've heard about, things like carbon fiber car bodies and roof trusses?
First, step back and take a breath. The market for carbon fiber composites is as strong as ever. In fact, it is growing stronger by the year. We have heard estimates suggesting that the carbon fiber market will be north of $6 billion within a decade. We will not know if those estimates are accurate for some time, but we do know that the demand for carbon fiber composites continues to grow as we learn more about the best ways to use the materials.
For the record, Cubicarbon is very excited about the future of our industry. We look forward to a future of better composites and more uses for them. We look forward to a more profitable industry as well. We firmly believe that composites in general, and carbon fiber composites in particular, are the future of manufacturing and fabricating.
Here are three predictions about the future of our industry that we believe will play a key role in the explosive growth analysts are predicting:
1. COSTS WILL COME DOWN
At the current time, there is no debate that the cost of using production-ready carbon fiber composite materials for fabrication is high. Most carbon fiber materials can be produced by machines, but the process of turning those materials into fabricated parts tends to be a lot more labor-intensive.
Right now, there is a push on to reduce the cost of processing composites by increasing automation. We are seeing the development of newer and better machines for creating everything from tubing to plates to prepreg materials. And just like Henry Ford made the automobile affordable through assembly-line production, our industry is going to make carbon fiber composites more cost-effective through automation.
2. VERSATILITY WILL INCREASE
Carbon fiber composites can, in theory, be used to manufacture or fabricate just about anything. Practically speaking though, some things are easier to fabricate than others. You can fabricate a carbon fiber tube a lot more easily than an airplane wing, for example. But that is changing.
With new research into things like nanocomposites and closed mold infusion, our industry is discovering innovative ways to use composites that meet a variety of needs in terms of strength, durability, size, and scope. We are seeing the versatility of carbon fiber expand exponentially as our knowledge of composites grows. That versatility will lead the way into a future of electric cars, larger airplanes, and more.
3. AESTHETICS WILL IMPROVE
Right now, you can buy carbon fiber materials from Cubicarbon in black. Folks often ask for more colors. For this, we are investing in alternative weaving styles and hybrid wovens that incorporate nylons, kevlar, fiberglass, and even some naturally grown flax fibers. To sell the world on composites, we have to make them look better and we are working to that end as we speak.
But it doesn’t stop here. We recently learned about a group of Chinese researchers that hit on a way to use structural colors instead of pigmented dyes to color carbon fiber fabrics. Their discovery is going to have an enormous impact on aesthetics once it hits the market.
The future of carbon fiber looks bright. Here at Cubicarbon, we are thrilled to be part of it.