Carbon Carbon fiber cloth
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Carbon fiber cloth.
Graphite (carbon) fibers are very strong, much stronger than things like nylon or other typical thread materials. For this reason carbon fiber is often used as a reinforcing mechanism in composite materials. Typically some kind of resin binder, like epoxy, is impregnated into the cloth, which is then wrapped around or over a form to give it the desired shape. When the resin hardens the result is a stiff, extremely strong shell that gets most of its strength from the fibers, not the resin. This kind of material is used to build airplanes, bicycle frames, even high-pressure gas cylinders for scuba diving.

Or so I thought: Reader Jason Dostal has corrected this last sentence as follows:
I do have one small correction for you though on your carbon page. You mention that carbon fiber is used in the construction of high pressure gas cylinders used for scuba diving. That is partially true - they do construct fiber-wrapped high pressure gas cylinders, but we don't use them for scuba diving. I have several small (68 cubic inch, 3000PSI) tanks that I attach to my paintball gun, because they are very, very light. Firefighters also use fiber-wrapped SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) tanks due to their lightweight. And that is exactly why divers do not use them. The tanks are too light for diving. The materials they are made out of do not give the cylinder enough negative buoyancy to offset the buoyancy created by it's water displacement. You would have to wear a huge amount of lead to offset the natural buoyancy of the tank. We don't even really like aluminum tanks - the little 80 cubic foot aluminum tanks are kind of looked down upon by us "serious" divers, as they have poor buoyancy characteristics - they just get too light underwater. We do use aluminum cylinders to carry additional gases with us when doing decompression diving, but for the most part we use good, heavy low pressure (2400/2650 PSI) steel 104 cubic foot tanks (or other capacity).
So there you have it: In scuba diving the tanks are supposed to be heavy, and the crowbars are supposed to be light (see my titanium crowbar for more on the subject of diving with crowbars).
Source: eBay seller treacia1800
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 25 February, 2004
Text Updated: 20 November, 2008
Price: $15
Size: 42"
Purity: >98%