Carbon-Fiber Breadboards

Lighter, stiffer, vacuum-compatible, lower thermal expansion & inherently non-magnetic

Carbon fiber optical breadboards provide a similar thermal stability to Super Invar but at a lower cost and are inherently non-magnetic. For ages, steel breadboards have been the only choice; however, structures made from carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) have been used in the aerospace and space industries for many years due to their low weight, high strength, excellent thermal stability and low resonant frequencies. APS now brings this advanced technology to the world of photonics in the United States and Canada with carbon fiber breadboards from CarbonVision. Four grades of carbon fiber breadboard are offered: the economic EC-Series, the advanced AD-Series, the all-carbon AC-Series, and the slim SL-Series.

Why carbon fiber? Compared with regular steel breadboards, carbon fiber boards typically weigh a factor of four (4) less, exhibit 1/10th of the thermal expansion, possess damping coefficients that are up to 60% higher and provide a superior weight-to-stiffness ratio.

The low weight of carbon boards will be of particular interest to those working with “mobile” systems, as will the fact that you can mount breadboards on top of breadboards in complex set ups. Precision is also important and the raised mounting surfaces of CarbonVision boards are ground to a flatness of ± 50 microns, with lateral position controlled to within ± 100 microns.

Vibrations are minimized due to the physical properties of carbon fibers embedded into a resin matrix, which is complemented by the behavior of carbon fiber composites. Together, damping coefficients are up to 60% higher than regular steel boards. Supplementary elements placed inside the carbon fiber tubes which link the upper and lower faces of the boards allow the fine-tuning of resonant frequencies, which allows us to adapt the carbon boards to your specific requirements.

CarbonVision boards have an open design when configured for use in a clean room environment. The carbon fiber tube which is located below each mounting hole on the board allows easy cleaning by “pushing” contamination out. In the case of the CA-series, the side walls of the board can be completely removed, allowing thorough cleaning of the entire board.

The coefficient of thermal expansion for carbon fiber is typically 10% of steel. By selecting specific fibers or resins, and by optimizing the orientation of the fibers, the coefficient can be further reduced. A lower coefficient of thermal expansion enhances the accuracy and precision of your experiments but also reduces the stabilization time of the board, saving you time.

APS offers carbon breadboards in standard and custom sizes from 300 mm square up to 1.2 m x 2.5 m and with thicknesses from 25 to 100 mm. Non-standard sizes and shapes are available. The standard mounting system comprises stainless steel inserts with ¼-20 holes on a 25 mm grid.