Carbon fiber (carbon fibre), alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of extremely thin fibers about 0.005–0.010 mm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in microscopic crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber. The crystal alignment makes the fiber very strong for its size. Several thousand carbon fibers are twisted together to form a yarn, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric. Carbon fiber has many different weave patterns and can be combined with a plastic resin and wound or molded to form composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic (also referenced as carbon fiber) to provide a high strength-to-weight ratio material. The density of carbon fiber is also considerably lower than the density of steel, making it ideal for applications requiring low weight. The properties of carbon fiber such as high tensile strength, low weight, and low thermal expansion make it very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. However, it is relatively expensive when compared to similar materials such as fiberglass or plastic.
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