Carbon fibre, 1965.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A sample of carbon fibre made by Courtaulds and heat-treated at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (Rae), Farnborough, Hampshire. The glas tube is labelled '1st sample of carbon fibres made by Courtaulds heat treated at R.A.E for 1 hour at 2500 degree C on 15.9.65 (signed) W Watt CPM Dept Rae'. 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.