Pro Lite Technology

Carbon Fibre Breadboards

CarbonVision Carbon Fibre Breadboards (Courtesy of MPIA Heidelberg)

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

Carbon fibre optical breadboards provide a similar thermal stability to Super Invar but at a lower cost and are inherently non-magnetic. Since time immemorial, steel breadboards have been the only game in town. However, structures made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (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. Pro-Lite now brings this advanced technology to the world of photonics with carbon fibre breadboards from CarbonVision. Four grades of carbon fibre breadboard are offered (see below), from the affordable EC-series to the SL-series that provides superior damping characteristics.

Why carbon fibre? Compared with regular steel breadboards, carbon fibre boards typically weigh 75% less (size for size), exhibit 10% 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 flastness of ± 50 microns, with lateral position controlled to within ± 100 microns.

Vibrations are minimised due to the physical properties of carbon fibres embedded into a resin matrix, which is complemented by the behaviour of carbon fibre composites. Together, damping coefficients are up to 60% higher than regular steel boards. Supplementary elements placed inside the carbon fibre 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 fibre 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 fibre is typically 1/10th of that of steel. By selecting specific fibres or resins, and by optimising the orientation of the fibres, the coefficient can be further reduced. A lower coefficient of thermal expansion enhances the accuracy and precision of your experiments but also reduces the stabilisation time of the board, saving you time.

We offer carbon breadboards in standard and custom sizes from 300 x 300mm up to 1.2 x 2.5m and with thicknesses from 25 to 100mm. Non-standard sizes and shapes are available. The standard mounting system comprises stainless steel inserts with M6 holes on a 25 or 50mm grid.

Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (10-6 K-1)
  x-Direction y-Direction z-Direction
Carbon EC-Series 2.5 2.5 23.0
Carbon CA-Series 2.5 2.5 0.1
Carbon SL-Series 2.5 2.5 0.05
Steel 10-12 10-12 10-12
Invar 1.7-2.0 1.7-2.0 10-12
Aluminium 23.0 23.0 12.0

CarbonVision EC-Series Breadboard


The EC-series breadboard is the cost-effective solution based upon honeycomb panels with various core materials. Stiffness and thermal stability can be adjusted by bonding additional plates made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) on the top or bottom face of the breadboard. Weight ~ 14kg/m2.

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CarbonVision AD-Series Breadboard


The AD-series breadboard is an enhanced version of the entry-level EC-series. At each mount location, a CFRP tube links the top and bottom shell. The CFRP tubes (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) allow easy cleaning of the board, installation of additional, removeable mounts on the bottom face, tuning of the resonant frequency and vibrational damping by inserting adaptive elements. Weight ~ 15kg/m2.

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CarbonVision AC-Series Breadboard


The CA-series breadboards are made entirely from carbon fiber resin plastic (CFRP). The top and bottom faces consist of CFRP shells, several mm thick and structurally joined by tubes made from CFRP. In addition to the advantages of the AD-series, CA-series breadboards allow integration of optical or electronic components and easy routing of wires and optical fibers within the stiff carbon shell. Weight ~ 19kg/m2.

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CarbonVision SL-Series Breadboard


SL-series breadboards are purpose designed for damping mechanical vibrations. The breadboards are made entirely from carbon, constisting of a top and bottom plate. The plates are structurally decoupled by a damping foil which is laminated inbetween the plates. SL-series breadboards are typically used as additional boards mounted on top of a larger breadboard.

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