Here's something a little different from the normal automotive content we deliver. You won't find any screaming supercars or rugged off-roaders in the above video, but you will see some often-touted materials used throughout the auto industry subjected to extreme pressures. Carbon fiber is among them, and we know how manufacturers love to brag about using it. How does it handle the unrelenting force of a hydraulic press?
For the record, we aren't engineers and this video doesn't claim to present a proper scientific study. The crew at Crazy Hidraulic Press (yes, spelled with an i) on YouTube made round cylinders of identical size, placed them in a press, and pushed the smash button. Aside from carbon fiber, we see cylinders of aluminum, brass, titanium, low-grade steel, stainless steel, PVC, and acrylic, and they're all subjected to the same press. A scale measures the force subjected in kilograms, with the maximum force noted for each material. It's as simple as that.
It's also worth noting that the pipes are weighed prior to the test. As you might expect, acrylic is the lightest at 9 grams, with PVC and carbon fiber tied at 11 g. On the heavy end is steel, with the low-grade at 58 g and stainless at 59 g. Aluminum measured 20 g, with titanium at 33 g and brass at 45 g.
As for the testing, acrylic actually holds on surprisingly well, reaching 1,538 kilograms of pressure before deforming and shattering. It out-performed PVC, which maxed out at 1,004 kg before losing strength. But you didn't click this article to hear about how the pipes in your house handle a beefy press. You want to know how strong carbon fiber is.
The material touted by brands like McLaren and Lamborghini peaked at 2,998 kg of pressure. It didn't shatter at that point, but instead began to chip and flake away with pressure remaining steady at around 2,000 kg until just a pile of pieces and strands remained. Aluminum peaked higher at 3,840 kg, and titanium – another exotic material automakers sometimes mention – went all the way to 9,190 kg, though it was deforming prior to peak pressure.
Gallery: Carbon Fiber Shelby Cobra Race Car
The high-strength star of this particular test, however, is stainless steel. It withstood 15,800 kg of pressure before literally collapsing under the force. That translates to nearly 35,000 pounds, and when it was removed from the press, the steel was too hot to touch. It withstood over five times the force compared to carbon fiber, but interestingly, it's also approximately five times heavier.
Again, this isn't a scientific test. But it's certainly interesting to see what happens to these materials under such pressure.