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In message <email@example.com> firstname.lastname@example.org (John Firkins) writes:
> But a large part of the reason that carbon is expensive relates to the
> virtual cartel/monopoly of the producers. I was hoping that this would
> change with the Berlin wall. The ex "Eastern bloc" used to produce over
> 50% of the worlds carbon fibre, mainly to supply their military
> requirements. Now that they no longer have the funding to build militaty
> equip on the same scale, you'd think the world market would be flooded with
> the stuff.
I had similar hopes for some special purpose semiconductors, but when the
economic environments were unified the Eastern product turned out to cost three
times as much - the East German social system was amazingly inefficient.
Back when carbon fibre was first introduced, in the late 1960s, I was helping
to build a kit car - a Cox GTM. The Mini's engine is actually in front of the
front wheels - by putting the subframe in the _back_ of a car, you get a cheap
mid-engined layout. My colleagues were all working for Rolls-Royce, who
intended to make the RB211's turbine blades out of carbon fibre until a 6lb
chicken fired into a set dissuaded them.
All of a sudden, carbon fibre was a drug on the market. We had so many boxes
of it in the hall that you had to enter the house through the back door.
Committee Member, UK Audi [ur-]quattro Owners Club