Difference Between Aluminum and Carbon Fiber (With Table)

With the technological advancements, each of the conventional things is being replaced by modern day replacements. Carbon fiber is one such thing that is replacing the conventional aluminum fiber. However, aluminum fiber is still one of the most used fibers in various industries. 

Aluminum fiber versus carbon fiber is one of the never ending debates in the biking industry due to the advantages of one fiber over the other. With the growth of the biking industry, it has now become difficult to select the suitable material for manufacturers. There is a wide range of differences between the two fibers.

Aluminum vs Carbon Fiber

The difference between Aluminum and Carbon Fiber is that aluminum fiber is made up of aluminum filaments placed parallel to each other. Carbon fibers are made by combining carbon atoms in crystals and placing them parallel to the longer axis.

Carbon fiber has more strength than aluminum fiber but in crashes, it is less likely that it lasts for reuse without repairing while aluminum fibers can be used without the need for repairs. 

Comparison Table Between Aluminum and Carbon Fiber

Parameter of ComparisonAluminum Fiber Carbon Fiber
What if refers to?Aluminum fiber is a type of metallic fiber made up of the parallel threads or filaments of aluminum metal, it is silverish white in color.Carbon fiber is a fiber made by bonding the carbon atoms into crystals in a parallel arrangement aligned with the longer axis of it. 
Weight and strengthAluminum fiber is much heavier as compared to the carbon fiber but it has less strength as compared to carbon fiber, however, even after a crash there are chances that it can be used with any repairing.Carbon fiber is lighter as compared to aluminum fiber, carbon fiber has more strength but in case of a crash, there are very few chances that it still would be in usable condition. 
Resistance to temperatureAluminum fiber is not affected by the extremely high or extremely low temperatures.When it comes to extreme temperatures, carbon fibers prove to be of a disadvantage since it can shatter during low temperatures and can deform during high temperatures. 
Thermal expansionThermal expansion shows the change in dimensions of the material when there is a change in temperature. Aluminum fiber shows nearly six times thermal expansion as compared to carbon fiber.Carbon fiber shows extremely low thermal expansion in comparison to aluminum fiber. 
Pros and consAluminum fibers are more durable but also susceptible to dents, bends and brakes, it is still more preferred over carbon fibers. Aluminum fibers are also cheaper than carbon fibers. Carbon fibers are lighter but are also more probable to cracking and breaking. Carbon fiber is easier to handle and work with and thus sometimes manufacturers skip some of the steps, therefore, result in its low quality.

What is Aluminum Fiber?

Aluminum fiber is made by placing aluminum filaments parallel to each other. Aluminum fibers have a variety of uses, it is a majorly used component in the manufacturing of friction materials. 

Aluminum fibers pose the qualities of both metals and non-metals. The surface area of the aluminum fiber is greater, it also has good thermal and electrical conductivity and flexibility. It has a large surface for heat dissipation. The purity of aluminum in these fibers is as high as 99.99% and its diameter is kept to a minimum.

Aluminum fiber is somewhat difficult to work with but is also cost effective. It does not break easily but can get bends and dents. It can be used in conjunction with other metals. 

Aluminum fiber is used in modified plastics of laptop shell, LED lights, etc. It is used in communication equipment such as communication cable in electrical shielding layers. 

What is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber is made by placing crystals of carbon atoms parallel to the larger axis. Hundreds are these fibers are placed together to make a tow which is used further. 

Carbon fiber is easy to work with but due to its toughness, it is also brittle and therefore more probable to breaking and cracking. It is used in conjunction with other materials. It has some disadvantages because it gets easily deformed in extreme temperatures. 

Carbon fiber is being extensively used as a replacement for aluminum fiber but is relatively expensive . 

Main Differences Between Aluminum and Carbon Fiber

  1. Fiber for biking frames can be made from aluminum as well as carbon.
  2. Aluminum fiber is a metallic fiber made from the filaments of aluminum placed parallel to each other whereas carbon fiber is made by arranging carbon atom crystals parallel to the longer axis.
  3. Aluminum fiber is much heavier as compared to the carbon fiber. 
  4. When it comes to overall strength, then carbon fiber has more strength than aluminum fiber but in case of a crash, carbon fibers are less likely to last for reuse as compared to aluminum fiber.
  5. Aluminum fiber is not much affected by the extreme condition of temperatures, on the other hand, carbon fibers are shattered during low temperatures and can be deformed during high temperatures.
  6. When it comes to thermal expansion, aluminum fiber shows nearly six times more thermal expansion in comparison with carbon fiber which shows low thermal expansion.
  7. Aluminum fibers are more durable while carbon fibers are less durable.
  8. Aluminum fibers are susceptible to dents and bends whereas carbon fibers are more susceptible to breaks and cracks.
  9. Carbon fibers are more probable to duplicacy.
  10. Aluminum fibers are comparatively cheaper, however, some of the carbon fibers are also available in the same price range. 

Conclusion

Each of the fiber has its advantages and disadvantages. But with the carbon fibers, duplicate carbon fibers are also being used to make look-alike frames of carbon frames. Therefore, it has now become of utmost importance to thoroughly check the material before buying since duplicate materials pose a serious threat to the rider’s life. This is one of the reasons that manufacturers are still preferring aluminum fibers.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0263822316323194
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mawe.200700212
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