How F1's vital aero parts are made strong

How F1's vital aero parts are made strong

Formula 1 technical consultant PAT SYMONDS explains the magic of carbon fibre - and how one term encompasses a wealth of different applications that the grand prix squads use across their machine

To many people the words 'carbon fibre' describe a single material, but it is as generic a term as the word 'metal'. In the same way metal covers a range of elements from aluminium to zinc, so too does carbon fibre describe a plethora of different combinations of fibre and resin, each with unique and exploitable properties.

In general engineering carbon fibre is still thought of as a relatively new material, but the fibres as we know them today were first made by Swan for use in lightbulbs in 1860. In the mid twentieth century small samples of high-performance fibres were being made in laboratories, but it wasn't until 1963, when researchers at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough developed a method many companies went on to commercialise, that the material became viable.

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