Carbon fibre fabric weighs in at 43gsm

Paul Boughton

A new lighter variant of TeXtreme Spread Tow carbon fabrics was presented at the recent the JEC Composites show in Paris. The newly-released TeXtreme fabric is claimed to be the world’s lightest carbon fibre fabric, weighing in at 43gsm.
TeXtreme is a new category of composite reinforcements, Spread Tow Reinforcements. TeXtreme is currently mainly produced using carbon fibre, but can be produced using other materials as well. TeXtreme Spread Tow Reinforcements consists of Spread Tow Tapes and Spread Tow Fabrics (available both as 0/90 and +α/-β).
The production of TeXtreme utilises two novel Oxeon technologies: Spread Tow- and Tape Weaving. First the carbon fibre yarn is spread into a thin flat UD tape (Spread Tow Tapes) and then these tapes are used to weave a fabric (Spread Tow Fabrics). This enables production of composite parts that are 20-30 per cent lighter with improved mechanical properties. TeXtreme can be used both as dry fabric and as prepreg. [Page Break]
The 43gsm TeXtreme fabric is based on a TC42S carbon fibre (Intermediate Modulus). The TeXtreme fabric presented at JEC is a prototype and will be undergoing further application tests during the spring and is expected to be ready for sales during 2012.  
“The market has really been pushing for lighter carbon fabrics and we are continuously developing our product range to be able to offer optimized reinforcement solutions. This new 43gsm Spread Tow carbon fabric is an important innovation to further help the industry to reduce weight and improve mechanical performance.” says Andreas Martsman, VP Business Development of Oxeon.  
This TeXtreme variant is designed for high-performance applications where weight savings are of utmost importance, such as Formula 1. The previous lightest TeXtreme fabric was 76gsm.
Presently TeXtreme has been successfully implemented in a large range of industries such as: racing, marine, aerospace, sports and leisure and Industrial. The benefits companies within these segments have got are reduced weight, improved stiffness, better mechanical properties and superior surface smoothness.[Page Break]
TeXtreme has been used in Formula 1 for several years, and in general has helped reduce the weight of their composites parts by 20 per cent. In 2011, all races were won by a car reinforced with TeXtreme.
In Ultra Light Aircrafts TeXtreme has been used on fuselage, wings and other parts and has contributed to up 50-60 per cent of weight savings on certain parts.
The TeXtreme Spread Tow +α/-β Fabrics, introduced 2011, enables continuous-length production of novel fabrics by interconnecting two sets of Spread Tow Tapes in different angles +α/-β, for example +45/-45, +30/-60, +50/-25, etc. These fabrics are innovative solutions that complement the existing 0/90 version of TeXtreme to realise easily and quickly an optimised multidirectional reinforcement by direct plying.

The theory behind TeXtreme is relatively simple. By arranging the fibres in the woven structure in the straightest orientation possible, both in the plane and also out of the plane, the fibre properties can be exploited most effectively for carrying tensile and compressive loads.

In a way, TeXtreme performs mechanically similar to a cross-ply construction of UD with the differences that TeXtreme, being a fabric, exhibits exceedingly high draping ability than that of the cross plied UD and also its integrated nature is not susceptible to delamination. The use of Spread Tow Tapes in producing TeXtreme directly results in a woven material with higher fibre volume fraction and fewer interlacing points and thereby correspondingly lower crimp frequency and crimp angle.

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Fig.1. Illustration comparing TeXtreme to conventional carbon fabrics.

Fig. 2. TeXtreme is a new category of composite reinforcements, Spread Tow Reinforcements

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