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Carbon fiber Fab, need tips

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  • Carbon fiber Fab, need tips

    so yes I want to work with carbon fiber.
    my center console looks like **** and I want to make it smaller and custom of course

    I am wanting to form foam then lay the cf on to it. of course I need a way to stick it to the foam without it melting. what type of foam to use that wont melt?

    what mats do I need besides CF mat?, glue (to stick it to the foam) clear coat for the top?

    if I cant do it with cf then whats a good foam to use so I can fab it out of fiberglass?

    thanks a ton guys.

  • #2
    watch this video at least like 80 times before you try anything.


    • #3
      and what video would that be?


      • #4
        if you haven't purchased your supplies already, may I suggest you look into black fiberglass. Yes it exists, no i have not seen it in person... but the point is it's black cloth and it's about a mere tenth the price of the genuine article. I'm fairly certain you're not using CF for it's strength.

        as for the substrate... i would suggest checking out this thread.

        That console is pretty boxy as consoles go, but the point is to get all your functionality worked out in wood. It's cheap, it's easy to work with, and if you screw up, you're only out a few hours and a couple bucks.

        So before you say "but i want a curvy console!", you take what you'd have at that point, and start using epoxy to attach your foam boards to the outside. Use the Owens-Corning pink foam rigid insulation boards you can get at lowes/home depot. Now you have a shapeable surface over a sturdy and functional wood substrate. hack/saw/sand your shapes out in the pink foam, and spend some time there to get things even, level and correct.

        go to the hardware store and get some really beautiful color of latex paint. I say a beautiful color because if it's hideous, you'll rush to cover it up... and rushing is never good.

        next you'll paint the surface with several coats of latex paint to form a barrier against the resins. That's how you keep it from melting your form.

        Now you can take the cheap fiberglass cloth or fiberglass matt (our forum glass expert) and lay it up against the painted foam. This is going to functionally case harden your console, making it possible to use fillers, sand out imperfections, and ultimately get the form 100% perfect for your one shot at laying up the carbon/carbon-looking fiber.

        next, as i said, you'll want to sand out any imperfections by using a good filler. Rage Gold, Everglass, both Evercoat products are my favorites.

        When it's all perfect, wait for everything to outgas, harden up a little, and set before you get to the next thing. Up until this point, you had the luxury of tearing glass fibers, bunching them up, filling and sanding them out. Now you're actually going to have to pre-cut a piece with reliefs anywhere they need to go to conform to your curves and corners. you can really do this with any piece of non-stretchy fabric and a little Super 77 spray mount to make it stick. Then you can peel it off and transfer the pattern to the good stuff.

        After that, follow best practices for fiberglass layup- brush resin on first, lay out the fabric, stipple the surface with the brush to force air out and resin through the weave. Don't worry about the surface finish here. Just get good saturation and make sure your cloth lays the way you wanted it to.

        Once that sets, all you need to do is squeegee on a liberal layer of resin to fill any imperfections and raise the surface off the fibers so you don't sand through them later. When that cures, just dry/wet sand everything until you have a consistent satin finish. You can stop there if you want, or take it to the body shop and have them shoot a clearcoat on it. After that it should look glossy and clear just like you wanted.

        Hope that helps.
        Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

        Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
        Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
        Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.


        • #5
          thanks gohyrid for the information on where to get the foam and what to cover it in.

          however I need help with carbon fiber fab.
          your read on fiberglass is great and if I needed help with fiberglass I would use it.

          but how can I get CF to stick to the fiberglass mold I make? use a clear resin?
          then I could just have a paint shop lay a nice couple layers of clear coat of it?


          • #6
            Originally posted by dr4g0n3 View Post
            your read on fiberglass is great and if I needed help with fiberglass I would use it.
            I believe the point GoHybrid was trying to make is that the black fiberglass cloth would make an acceptable substitute for the carbon fiber at a fraction of the cost.
            "It's a blessing . . . and a curse."


            • #7
              yeah that black fiberglass is 35 bucks or so for 5 yards. good price
              so I could back with that.
              but would like the console to have a real carbon fiber look.
              so 1-2 layers of cf.

              can get it on ebay for a decent price.


              • #8
                regardless of the type of fiber you use, you'll need to use resin to get it to hold it's form and make it stick to the substrate.

                Also, you should not ignore the uses for plain-old fiberglass. You are building a console for your car, not a formula 1 body. The fiberglass will give you all the strength you need at $3/yd rather than $60/yd.

                IMO, using actual carbon fiber as a structural material for something inherently non-structural like a center console is a real waste of money and good materials. I understand the look is cool, and if that's what you want, then just make the top layer carbon. There's no need to make it carbon fiber throughout.
                Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

                Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
                Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
                Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.


                • #9
                  yeah gohybrid I only planned on using foam or some other type of material to build up then lay a nice layer of cf.

                  only thing I didnt know was how to get the CF to bond to the surface.

                  so j ust get a clear resin lay the cf and dab the resin on and attempt to make it a consitent size so filling is limited?


                  • #10
                    here's the problem i see you having. Laminating resins have a relatively slow cure time. If your surface is relatively flat, you can let gravity do the work, but if you're going around tight curves, you're going to need to fix the fabric in place by some other means to keep it's shape until the resin cures.

                    if you look at any shop serious about doing carbon fiber layup work, you'll see they're all using a vacuum bagging system to let the atmosphere do the clamping work. It turns out this works very well, but you need to do all the research on materials you need, how to adapt the process to your part, and shell out some cash for a vacuum pump.

                    Other methods i've seen which may or may not work depending on your shape, i've seen rocket hobbyists wrap their carbon tubes tightly in packing tape while curing.

                    Any way you do it, unless you make a flawless female mold and use a clear gelcoat, you're going to have to plan on some finishing work to make it glossy in the end.

                    As I said before, don't worry about the finish until you're ready to finish it. The only thing you need to keep in mind as you lay up the fiber is good resin saturation. The second you start pouring on resin or trying to get the gloss during layup, you've screwed yourself. The only way to fix bubbles in clear resin is to sand down to it, and fill it.

                    Because of the porous nature of the fiber, there are lots of opportunities for air to be introduced. The stippling method of resin application minimizes this. Vacuum pressure can eliminate it when done properly.

                    here are a few google terms for you to start with "peel ply" "breather fabric" and "vacuum bagging". It will open up a whole new world to you and maybe give you a solid way to finish your project.
                    Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

                    Worklog for my 2007 Civic Si ...f*** it...
                    Pictures of the Corolla (retired)here
                    Need to make something? Here are a few ideas.


                    • #11
                      Carbon Fiber Basics - Google Video


                      • #12
                        thanks rice for that video, will help me out alot!