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Oxidising oven for making carbon fibre, mid 1960s.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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Oxidising oven used in the early development of carbon fibre at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (Rae), Farnborough, Hampshire. Carbon fibres were first manufactured in the 1960s, by heating acrylic fibres to high temperatures. The resulting filaments of pure carbon graphite are extremely strong and stiff because of the alignment of their crystalline structure. This makes carbon fibre highly suitable for use in the manufacture of aircraft wings and fuselages, specialist engineering and sports equipment, and in jet engines and rockets, where strength at high temperatures is required.
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