At Semco, we are graphite fabrication experts, and our clients look to us for advice on the appropriate graphite materials for their projects. When clients discuss graphite materials with us, we notice that one conflation often comes up. In casual usage, the terms “graphite” and “ carbon” are used interchangeably, which is understandable, considering that graphite is a form of carbon. However, the physical properties of the two materials that we refer to as “carbon” and “graphite” are substantially different. This is relevant in a graphite fabrication context since graphite and carbon represent distinct material choices, and each material is best suited for different manufacturing processes.
As we look across graphite fabrication industries, we find that both graphite and carbon are each used in two distinct forms: natural and synthetic. For our discussion here, we will concentrate on the synthetic forms of these materials. These synthetic forms offer some of the more exciting possibilities for manufacturing processes.
So, here’s a quick cheat sheet distinguishing graphite from carbon for those requiring components made of carbon or graphite materials.
- A highly engineered synthetic material that is extremely machinable
- Capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 2800°C
- Very good electrical conductivity
- Particle size varies with particular grades, from up to 15 microns all the way down to less than 1 micron. Different graphite grades are available based on specific customer applications
- High compressive strength
- Very limited machinability
- Capable of withstanding temperatures of only up to 1800°C
- Very low electrical conductivity
- Extremely hard and brittle material
- Very high friction when rubbed against another material
While it might appear that graphite is the superior material from this cheat sheet, the truth is that there are many applications where carbon is preferable. When you contact Semco about a job, we can walk you through the process of determining what material and grade suits your project. We specialize in custom solutions to your graphite fabrication needs and can help you in all phases of any process. Our trained staff combines over 50 years of experience in the graphite and carbon industry. From engineering to choosing the right material, and from precision machining to fast delivery, Semco has your graphite fabrication needs covered.