During the 1970s, experimental work to find alternative raw materials led to the introduction of carbon fibers made from a petroleum pitch derived from oil processing. These fibers contained about 85% carbon and had excellent flexural strength. Unfortunately, they had only limited compression strength and were not widely accepted.
What once began as a space age material for the aerospace market has now become commercialized.
Today, carbon fibers are an important part of many products, and new applications are being developed every year. The United States, Japan, and Western Europe are the leading producers of carbon fibers.