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The Widespread Application of CFRP in Structural Components

Carbon fiber, known for its high-performance qualities, is an inorganic fiber that stands out due to its lightweight, high strength, rigidity, high-temperature resistance, and corrosion resistance. As a result, it has found extensive applications across various fields.

The first commercial application of carbon fiber was in 1972, with the sale of carbon fiber-reinforced resin fishing rods. Since then, carbon fiber has been utilized in high-end development areas, particularly as the primary structural material for spacecraft. The main form of carbon fiber application is as a reinforcing material for resin, forming Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP), which boasts excellent comprehensive properties.

In the automotive industry, CFRP’s potential is especially significant. For car bodies, CFRP is not only strong and stiff but also lightweight, potentially reducing the weight of car bodies by 40% to 60%. In wheel applications, it offers high strength and impact resistance, along with excellent heat resistance and thermal conductivity. CFRP also plays a crucial role in brake systems due to its high specific strength, wear resistance, and heat resistance, making it an ideal substitute for asbestos. Furthermore, due to its strength, toughness, heat resistance, and aging resistance, CFRP is suitable for both internal and external automotive decorations. In drive shafts, the anisotropy, high specific strength, and relatively low specific modulus of CFRP make it an ideal alternative to traditional metal materials.

In aerospace, CFRP has widespread applications in military aircraft, spacecraft, and commercial airliners. Globally, military aircraft are progressively transitioning to fifth-generation fighters, with CFRP playing a vital role. For spacecraft, CFRP meets the continuous strong market demand for lightweight missiles and rockets. Key structural components like solar panel arrays, parabolic antennas, central load-bearing cylinders, payload bays, and instrument mounting plates use CFRP honeycomb structures, effectively reducing structural weight, increasing stiffness, and significantly lowering satellite launch costs. For space platforms, CFRP ensures minimal structural deformation, strong load-bearing capacity, excellent radiation resistance, aging resistance, and adaptability to the space environment. It’s primarily used in making load-bearing cylinders, honeycomb panels, substrates, camera lens barrels, and parabolic antennas for satellites and space stations. Currently, CFRP’s application in spacecraft is quite mature, key to achieving lighter, smaller, and high-performance spacecraft.

In aircraft structural materials, CFRP is extensively used as the main load-bearing structural material in advanced large airplanes. It is also widely used as a structural material in newly developed airships.

In the construction field, CFRP is widely applied in offshore structures, chemical plants, highway barriers, house foundations, and bridges. With its advantages such as acid and alkali resistance, corrosion resistance, low thermal conductivity, high specific strength, rapid curing, high ultimate strain, high fatigue resistance, non-magnetic nature, and lightweight, it has gained widespread application in construction. For instance, CFRP strips, fabrics, and sheets are widely used in reinforcing concrete structures, with its high corrosion resistance and high specific strength being two key factors driving this technological advancement.

CFRP also shows significant effects in improving ship hull structures, reducing energy consumption, and enhancing maneuverability. Sweden, with a long-standing advantage in shipbuilding technology, leads the world in interlayer composite material technology. Ships using CFRP sandwich structures possess high strength, stiffness, low mass, strong impact resistance, low radar and magnetic signal interference, and excellent electromagnetic wave absorption properties.

In rail transport vehicles, light-weighting is key to reducing energy consumption of trains. Although metal-made trains are strong, they are heavy and consume more energy. CFRP, as a crucial material for new-generation high-speed trains, not only achieves light-weighting of rail vehicles but also improves their high-speed performance, reduces energy consumption, decreases environmental pollution, and enhances safety. Currently, the application of carbon fiber in rail vehicles is expanding from non-load-bearing components such as interior trim and onboard equipment to load-bearing parts like the body and frame. From small components like skirts and air deflectors to large structures like roofs, cabins, and bodies, the hybrid structure of metal and composite materials is becoming mainstream, with a significant increase in the use of CFRP. Due to limited weight reduction space in onboard equipment, the body and interiors have become key areas for light-weighting.

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