Carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth consist of bulk, chopped fibers, continuous strands or woven cloth forms of carbon or graphite. Carbon and graphite are used in reinforcing composites as well as other specialized electrical and thermal applications. Carbon fiber is made by charring synthetic polymer fibers made of polyacrylonitrile or PAN, by using an oxidation or thermal process. Carbon monofilament is composed of many long thin sheets of carbon molecules. The filaments are then spun into thread and woven into cloth.

Carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth is used in woven cloth, such as cloths and tapes for marine and composite repair; chopped strand mats; specialty fabrics combined with polyester resins; and Kevlar or aramid cloths that are used in reinforcing composite materials. Kevlar is a well-known brand of carbon fiber fabric that is used in bulletproof vests and other ballistic products. Carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth in combination with a resin is used to create a layer of waterproofing over the wood used in boat building. Carbon fiber cloth is also used to make surfacing veils and mats, automotive parts, and sealing tapes.

Carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth can be made of graphite fiber, which is formed when carbon is heated to 2500-3000 degrees Celsius. Graphite fiber is more elastic than carbon fiber, which is heated to 1500-2000 degrees Celsius. Carbon fiber has a higher tensile strength than graphite fiber. Carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth are used in composites for aerospace, automotive, and marine applications. Carbon fiber and carbon fiber cloth are also now being used in consumer goods such as computers, photographic equipment such as tripods, fishing rods and frames for racquets, and even the bows used for stringed musical instruments. Other non-polymer matrix materials such as carbon fiber-reinforced graphite are used in high temperature applications, including the nose cone and leading wing edges of the space shuttle.

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