Silicon Carbide was first prepared in the early 1800's. It was in commercial production by 1892, as a powder for grinding and cutting, having a Mohs hardness of 9-10 (almost as hard as Diamond).
Nicalon continuous multi-filament tow consists of fine filaments of ultra-fine ß-SiC crystals, giving strong particle bonding. This fibre has high strength and a high modulus in a high temperature atmosphere. It is oxidation resistant, with a high wettability and is consequently used in composites with metals, plastics and ceramics.
A thicker monofilament, also used for composites, is also available from Goodfellow in 3 versions which differ only in their outer coating (used to improve adhesion to, and resist degradation by, the matrix of a composite). This monofilament is made by a chemical vapour deposition (CVD) process around a fine tungsten wire.