If you are a motorcycle or car enthusiast, chances are you've heard the term carbon fiber, especially if you are interested in car repairs or restorations.
Of course, many different projects use carbon fiber parts, and these parts can be very expensive. If you have a bit of time, patience, and a well-ventilated workspace, though, you can make your own parts and save yourself some money. You don't even have to be making car parts to use this recipe. Here's how to make carbon fiber parts.
- Foam for the mold
- Sanding block with Wet& Dry sanding paper
- Mold releasing agent
- Coping saw or bread knife
- Very sharp scissors
- Polythene bag that will fit your part&bag tie
- Vacuum cleaner with hose
- Laminating resin
- Carbon fiber cloth
- Hard carnauba wax
- Acrylic lacquer
- Disposable mixing pots/stirring sticks
- Paint brushes
- Disposable latex gloves, safety goggles, and dust mask - NOT optional
TIPS: Work in a well-ventilated area, and be sure to wear a dust mask and gloves - many of the chemicals and substances used in this project are hazardous - and flammable so DO NOT smoke. Try to work in an area that is free from pet hair or other cling-ons.
- Create a mold for your part. Use a coping saw or bread knife to cut the desired shape out of foam, and sand any rough edges to create as smooth a surface as possible. When smooth, brush a mixture of half glue-half water over the entire mold, and allow to dry.
- Apply a layer of hard carnauba wax to the mold surface, and then apply a layer of the mold releasing agent. Allow this to dry, polish it, and apply another coat. Repeat this about 3-5 times, according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Shape the carbon fiber cloth over the mold, being careful not to pull too much and stretch the weave. Cut the excess cloth away, leaving about ½-inch around the edges.
- Mix the resin. Brush the resin carefully over the carbon fiber cloth, so that the cloth is completely wet. Shape the edges over the back of the mold.
- Place the carbon fiber and the mold into the polythene bag. Take care not to move the cloth on the mold.
- Stick the end of the vacuum hose into the polythene bag and vacuum out all of the air. When this is complete, secure the bag with the bag tie, without allowing any air to enter.
- Set aside and allow the resin to cure. Follow the manufacturer's instructions according to drying times.
- Once the resin has hardened, remove the piece from the bag. Ensure there are no bits of the bag sticking to the cloth, and apply another coat of resin.
- Continue to add layers of resin coating, allowing ample drying time between coats, until you have a layer thick enough to sand without damaging the cloth beneath it.
- Lightly sand the part with wet sandpaper, to smooth any surface lumps in the resin.
- Trim the overlapping edges, and carefully remove the carbon fiber part from the mold.
- Evenly brush on more resin, building up the finish. Be sure to give the resin a light sanding between coats, and wipe away any dust.
- Apply an acrylic lacquer. Allow it to dry, coat it with some more of the hard carnauba wax, and polish.
In general, this is sometimes a trial-and-error process, but once you've managed to make one piece, you'll learn what works and what doesn't. That being said, with some time, patience, and attention to detail and safety, you can make your own carbon fiber parts rather inexpensively. And remember, you don't have to be into car restoration to find this recipe useful. Carbon fiber material and parts are used for bike, aircraft, boat and car repair.