Carbon fiber has become the building material of choice in aerospace, Formula 1 and automotive industry thanks to its unique characteristics: carbon fiber maintains strength and rigidity while saving weight. It is also more and more prevalent with auto tuners, weekend racers and unfortunately the poser crowd looking to adorn their cars with the latest appendage made of fake carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber itself is a super strong weave of carbon strands that are five times as strong as steel, two times as stiff, yet weighs about two-thirds less. No wonder it’s commonly used in Formula 1. But carbon fiber is also extremely expensive and time consuming to fabricate because of the process of molding it into the desired shape.
Most auto manufacturers use carbon fiber as reinforcement to other materials in what is called a composite. BMW calls their composite: CFRP or Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic first introduced in the E46 M3 CSL’s roof. Now CFRP is used in everything from reinforcement pieces on M cars to trim pieces inside.
BMW is even more focused in using this lightweight material starting with the new BMW i cars; the i3 and i8. These cars will be the first production BMWs whose “life cell” will be made entirely of carbon fiber.
Using carbon fiber in race applications to save weight has become popular amongst the street crowd over the last few years as the costs of some Carbon weaves has started to come down. Seen in today’s Super Bild is a Carbon Fiber rear diffuser on an E39 M5. Also adorned with billet aluminum as an accent material, the diffuser is lightweight, strong and because it is not painted (just clear coated), the exposed carbon weave can be seen and adds a very high tech look to the piece.
BMW Performance Parts accessories catalog is strewn with carbon fiber pieces to spruce up your BMW. From front bumper splitters to mirror covers. Carbon fiber has really hit the performance oriented driver with full force; and dressing up your BMW with it is fine as long as you’re not that guy with the fake carbon fiber fender vents you’ll be just fine.
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