Carbon is just burnt wood

Carbon is just burnt wood
Woodworking tools
Woodworking tools. Photo by prettydreamer.workshop. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license.

I’ve been casting occasional glances at other potential jobs recently and one in particular caught my eye – in the woodworking industry. Now if we were making small talk at a party, and you were being polite, you’d say that there’s plenty of engineering to be done with wood, of course – then you’d smile wanly and wander swiftly on to the canapés, thinking “hmm, engineering, indeed.”

Normally, I’d be with you on that one, but in this case, there’s a peculiarity involved that I haven’t yet shared with you. The job is in Austria.

Let me start again.

I’ve been casting glances (etc, you know the drill by now) – in carbon fiber engineering and one position in particular caught my eye. The company designs and builds custom or low-volume parts for the automotive industry. All very high-tech, as I’m sure you’d agree. Except the job is in Austria.

Austria has some quirks in how jobs are defined. The notion of guilds and masters is significantly less atrophied there than elsewhere, but they had a little difficulty in allocating carbon fibre tech into their existing classifications – so they put it where it best fit, in the “holzverarbeitende Industrie”, the woodworking industry.

Carbon fiber and me go way back. I researched it a university, making samples myself, modelling and testing its use in aircraft wings – and I rather agree with the Austrians’ assessment. What with cutting up sheets of pre-preg, layering them up, vacuuming them down, curing them in autoclaves (a fancy name for ‘ovens’). Carbon fiber is all nominally high-tech, but it’s also somehow artisanal; a craft that can result in some amazing products – like the Lexus LFA supercar, for instance

Yes, the properties of carbon fibre, and the complexities of its production simply appeal to me – I’d love to get back into it, hence the low-level job searching. Now I wonder, if Lexus sells one of their LFAs  in Austria, will it be classified as a wooden car?