by Larry Connelley
When it comes to choosing a knife, the type of material used for the handle is just as important to the buyer as the type of blade. Knives with carbon fiber handles are one option you may consider if you are looking for a strong knife with a unique look and feel.
Organic materials like wood can shift, crack or break under pressure, while stronger materials like metals often lead to heavy knives that are difficult to use. To maximize their handles' form and function, many manufacturers are turning to carbon fiber - a great choice for many reasons.
What it is and How it's Made:
Carbon fiber manufacturing is a complex and technical process. In basic terms, it a synthetic material that is created from the precursor polyacrylonitrile material - 90% of the time. Manufactures draw precursor material into long strands. These strands are then sealed off from oxygen and placed under extreme heat. The heat purifies the material of the non-carbon atoms in a process called oxidization, tightening the bond between the remaining carbon strands. Once the material is fully through the oxidation process, it picks up its recognizable black color. The result is thin, black, hair-like fibers. The carbon fibers are then woven together into a thread and then again into textile-like sheets.
To become usable as a solid workable material, sheets of woven fiber are impregnated with resin under high heat and pressure. The fibers can then be laid over a mold and coated with resin under heat and pressure.
Why It is Ideal For Knife Handles
Carbon fiber is ideal for knife handles for several reasons. For starters despite being extremely lightweight, it is also very durable. As one of the hardest artificial substances available, carbon fiber is a rigid material for manufacturing high-end knife handles. A carbon fiber knife handle can withstand great pressure without breaking or flexing. Because the material is so lightweight, you will enjoy high blade-to-weight ratio when carrying the knife.
Additionally, many prefer carbon fiber handles because of the artistic qualities. The fibers reflect light, giving each knife a distinct, decorative look. Manufacturers use carbon fiber in a wide range of industries including aerospace industry, computer parts, medical industry, bicycle frames, fishing poles, extreme watches, and high-end auto industry. Anywhere you need an extremely strong material with lightweight you will likely find carbon fiber.
Strength and Durability
In terms of strength, carbon fiber is one of the strongest materials used today for knife handles. It is much stiffer than steel, and five times stronger. In terms of durability, it will last a lifetime of heavy use.
The Down Side Of Carbon Fiber
While the material is very versatile, it is also much harder to work with than G10 or Micarta for the maker and significantly more expensive. The cost is due to the labor-intensive manufacturing process of carbon fiber.
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