In early 2018, when we considered launching a new line of combs to complement our metal combs, we looked at all the options: wood, plastic, horn, etc. One of the most intriguing materials we came across was carbon fiber composite, which has amazing attributes of strength, anti-static, durability, heat- and chemical-resistance, etc.
One question we are sometimes asked is why we make combs from carbon fiber composite rather than from pure carbon fiber. There's an analogy to gold jewelry here. Pure 24 karat gold is beautiful, but it's too soft to make jewelry that can be worn all the time. That's why alloys are created, such as 14 karat, which is a mix of 58.3% pure gold and 41.6% other metals (copper, etc.) which provide strength and other attributes.
Carbon fiber composite is far more suited to making an amazing hair comb than carbon fiber in its pure sheet form. To make combs from pure carbon fiber would require cutting them from a sheet, which can result in sharp edges that make it difficult to shape the comb into the fully ergonomic designs we wanted to create. (Cutting a comb from a sheet can also introduce stresses which weaken the material). By using an ultra high quality carbon fiber composite, we could make the combs into the best designs possible, while still retaining the great natural attributes of carbon fiber (strength, anti-static, etc.).
In our research, we also looked at other materials. One of the materials we quickly rejected was cellulose acetate - which is used to make reddish-brownish "tortoise shell" color plastic combs. Some common hair combs (e.g., Kent and Mason Pearson) are actually still made of this archaic type of plastic. In doing our research, some folks in the plastics industry we spoke with were quite surprised that cellulose acetate was still being used to make combs. It's basically a cheap 1950s-technology plastic that lacks many of the traits (strength, durability) that you find in many modern plastics. Cellulose acetate combs can warp in heat or humidity and easily break. The main virtue of cellulose acetate is that it's cheap, but that's really something that only benefits the manufacturer - not you, the person actually using the comb.
Whatever downsides cellulose acetate has, it's actually much better than some other plastics that are out there. Believe it or not, some combs are made using plastics containing formaldehyde or other sketchy chemicals (an example is acetal plastic). There is a lot of research discussing the possible negative health effects from plastics that can leach formaldehyde. There's really never a good reason to save a couple bucks by buying a comb made of that type of material.
When you get a Chicago Comb, you can be confident you're getting the best. The full range of carbon fiber and metal Chicago Combs is made of the highest quality, safest materials - all made in USA: high-end carbon fiber composite; 304-grade stainless steel; pure titanium; and leather sheaths made of premium leather from the famous Horween tannery. A comb is something you'll use every day for many years. With a very small investment you can get an amazing product you'll be proud to use for a lifetime.
John is the co-founder and President of Chicago Comb