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Carbon Fiber Composites were composite materials that contained carbon fibers. They were lighter and stronger than steel. Carbon fiber composites were steel's replacement in automotive use.
(Note: The background section of this page uses most of the same words as the kevlar page of Terra Futura to save time.)
In 1931, Japan started invading China. Japan cut off the silk supply. The search for a man-made replacement began. In 1935, Wallace Carothers, a chemist at DuPont, created nylon. This was the first synthetic fiber. During World War II, DuPont served as the leading supplier of the US armed forces with nylon products. After World War II, DuPont continued developing synthetic fibers. In 1964, another chemist at DuPont, Stephanie Kwolek, created Kevlar. This brought back the suit of armor.
When kevlar was invented, it was found that with 4 layers a bullet could be stopped. An extra seven layers were needed to prevent any damage to organs. This fabric could also stop a knife. Originally, it was used for race car tires. During the War on Terror, kevlar brought back the suit of armor. More people lives were saved. Later on, kevlar was used in the arrester gear system of an aircraft carrier. Eventually, however, kevlar was replaced with lighter, stronger materials.
One example was fiberglass. Fiberglass was a plastic that was reinforced by glass fibers. Though less brittle and cheaper, it was less stiff and less strong than carbon fiber composites. Due to its RF permeability, fiberglass was best used in telecommunications and fiber optics. Antennas of smartphones were made of fiberglass. Fiberglass, however, never made it into vehicles. Carbon fiber composites did.
Tech Level: 10
The first vehicles to be made primarily of carbon fiber composites were the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350. This reduced the weight of the two planes. A big increase in efficiency. The Rocky Mountain Institute sought to apply this to cars. The problem was that carbon fiber composites were expensive. The Rocky Mountain Institute's company, Fiberforge, sought to lower the price of carbon fiber composites and other composite materials such as fiberglass. Its manufacturing solutions helped reduce the price of carbon fiber composites to the point that it was used in cars ubiquitously. It effectively replaced steel, aluminum, and titanium in most, if not all, applications. In turn, carbon fiber composites were eventually replaced with carbon nanotubes.