Colored Carbon Fiber Is Usually Texalium, But What Is Texalium?
Real carbon fiber only truly comes in one way, the standard black/grey weave that we're all used to seeing. You've seen things advertised as a colored carbon fiber, but that's not the real story. For example, if you see something advertised as silver carbon fiber, it's actually another material like aluminized fiberglass or silver Texalium.
What Is Texalium?
So what is Texalium, and how is it different than carbon fiber? Texalium was developed by a company based out of California named Hexcel. It's a fiberglass-based fabric that has a proprietary finish and a thin coating of aluminum on the surface. The aluminum coating is 99.99% pure and approximately 200 angstroms in thickness (One angstrom is one ten-billionth of a meter). This coating produces the highly reflective surface. Texalium fabrics are woven in 2/2 twill, and standard roll lengths are 100 yards.
What About Other Colors?
If a colored carbon fiber isn't made from Texalium, usually it's a different material that is interwoven with the carbon fiber, such as aramid fiber (Kevlar is simply a brand name of aramid). This gives a slightly different look to the weave, which you can see an example of in our carbon/aramid keychain and from this Status Racing carbon fiber/kevlar seat we saw at SEMA:
By default, aramid fiber is yellow, and can then be dyed to other shades such as blue and red.
Another alternative way to give real carbon fiber the appearance of color is to tint the clearcoat that is applied to the finish. This how the look of colored carbon fiber is attained in hyper cars from manufacturers like Pagani and Bugatti. If you were to strip the clearcoat off of these vehicles, you would find black carbon fiber underneath.