The Hinge Behind the Wallet - Part 1


CF-Lex

Carbon fiber wallets are cool; most people can agree on that point.  They look cool, they feel cool, and they are made of cool materials, but we are just like you; we don’t simply purchase something because of how it looks or its perceived “coolness factor.”  When purchasing any new product, we do the research to determine that it is the best product on the market in terms of functionality and durability.  At that point we look into the cost and we typically are willing to spend a little extra if we are confident that the product will fit all of our needs and last a lifetime.  In this blog post we are going to look past the shiny, sexy exterior of the Common Fibers wallets and look at what makes them really shine: the CF-Lex Hinge Technology.

Background

The CF-Lex™ Hinge Technology is not only the backbone of each of our products, it is the backbone of Common Fibers.   Before we were the company Common Fibers, we were three engineering students playing around with carbon fiber.  We were making anything and everything we could out of carbon fiber, constantly pushing the limits of the material.  It was through this process that we came to brainstorming new things to make from carbon fiber.  At the end of it, we had a whole list of items and nearly half of them required hinges.  To our knowledge, carbon fiber hinges didn’t exist, so we did some research, and sure enough, there was no such thing.  This sparked the question:  How could we make a carbon fiber hinge?

I wish we could say that the next day we had figured it out, but truthfully, it wasn’t until a few years later that we discovered the process that we still use to this day.  Lucky for us, one of our founders was is a pyro and we started playing around with fire and carbon fiber.  Turns out, the epoxy resin used on carbon fiber can be burnt off at low temperatures, but the individual strands of carbon fiber don’t melt until over 3000 degrees C.  Attempt two involved a blow torch and some sheets of steel to create our first hinge lines.  This process worked, but was far from repeatable or accurate.  Attempt three resulted in the breakthrough; use a CNC laser to precisely vaporize the resin from a carbon fiber laminate.

The door was blown wide open.  We had a unique process to create a unique product with unlimited applications and possibilities! We scrambled to patent our findings and show our technology to the world.  We realized instantly the potential for this technology in the aerospace and automotive industries, but realized we had no way to break into them.  We also had a completely untested technology and realized we needed to start simple.  Enter: Wallets. 

In 2013, wallets were all the craze on Kickstarter, so we decided to start a campaign by making carbon fiber wallets with our carbon fiber hinges.  Not only were the wallets cool looking, they also demonstrated our technology to the world.  We were thinking: “Maybe the CEO of Boeing will buy one and decide that he needs this technology on every airplane!” Needless to say, the plan was for Kickstarter to be a marketing campaign for the CF-LexTM Hinge Technology.  What we didn’t take into account was just how ridiculously functional and durable a carbon fiber wallet could be!
 

Common Fibers CF-Lex™ Hinge Technology Laser