Composites4U Carbon Fibre Fabric Guide
When choosing a woven carbon fibre fabrics for your application there are a couple of areas that you will need to understand. This Composites4U guide will help explain what different specifications and styles of carbon fibre fabric mean in relation to the appearance and handling of the fabric, both of which are important when choosing a fabric for your application.
Composites4U currently offer, 1k, 3k, 6k and 12k woven carbon fibre fabrics.
What is the difference between 1k, 3k, 6k and 12k?
When talking about woven carbon fibre, 1k refers to the number of individual fibres that make up one strand, this strand is then woven alongside other identical strands into the finished fabric. Therefore in a 1k fabric each stand that you can visibly see in the fabric is made up of 1,000 individual carbon fibres, each individual fibre has a diametre of 7 microns. This principle is the same for all carbon fibre fabrics:
· 1k = 1,000 individual carbon fibres
· 3k = 3,000 individual carbon fibres
· 6k = 6,000 individual carbon fibres
· 12k = 12,000 individual carbon fibres
Why is this Important?
It is important to grasp the concept of these details because the differences affect both the visual and physical characteristics of the fabric, including fabric drape-ability and ease of distortion. The most common and popular carbon fibre fabric is a 200g/m², 3k either plain weave or 2/2 twill. However 3k fabrics are also available on Composites4U in weights down to 160g/m² and weights up to 285g/m², this basically means that since there are the same number of individual fibres in each strand weight is lost / gained by weaving the fabric looser / tighter.
By having a ‘looser’ woven fabric you will find that it is easier to drape around complex moulds but at the same time the fabric is less stable and thus more susceptible to fraying when cut. This principle can be transferred to a ‘tighter’ weave fabric, it makes the fabric more stable, less susceptible to fraying when cut but the fabric loses some of its drape characteristics.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PLAIN WEAVE AND 2/2 TWILL?
Plain weave is the 2nd most popular weave style in relation to carbon fibre fabric, it is woven using a one-over-one-under technique which produces a grid like pattern as you can see in the picture above.
Benefits of Using a Plain Weave Fabric
The nature of using a one-under-one-over weaving technique is that the fabric produced is tightly woven, thus the fabric is more stable, less susceptible to fraying and easier to handle without distorting or damaging the fabric.
Drawbacks of Using a Plain Weave Fabric
Because of the ‘tighter’ weave the plain weave is less drape-able when compared to a 2/2 twill making it more difficult to conform to complex curvatures in a mould.
The 2/2 Twill is the most popular weave of all carbon fibre fabrics, it is produced using a two-under-two-over weaving technique. This gives the fabric the diagonal pattern which is often associated with carbon fibre.
Benefits of Using a 2/2 Twill Fabric
The 2/2 twill is mainly used for its appearance, its diagonal pattern is seen as the ‘standard’ look for carbon fibre. Twill is a type of textile weave with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs, this is done by passing the weft threads over one more of the warp threads and then under two warp threads with a ‘step’ or ‘offset’ between rows to create the diagonal pattern. Through weaving a fabric in this way it produces a ‘looser fabric,’ when compared to a plain weave which allows the fabric to be easily draped into complex moulds.
Drawbacks of Using a 2/2 Twill Fabric
The main disadvantage of using a 2/2 twill fabric is that it is more unstable, easier to distort and easily frays when cut compared to a plain weave carbon fibre fabric.
Composites4U also offer a range of ‘alternative weaves’ such as a 4H Satin, 5H Satin & 8H Satin, these have been introduced to our product range primarily to offer our customers a different look for carbon fibre material. A satin weave fabric is produced using the following techniques:
· 4H Satin - Three Over – One Under
· 5H Satin - Four Over – One Under
· 8H Satin - Seven Over – One Under
Satin weaves are generally considered to provide the ‘ultimate in drape-ability’ however they do suffer from fray and distortion when handling much more than traditional plain and 2/2 twill weaves.