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Thread: Carbon Fiber Tutorial

  1. #11
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    The glass skin on the plug is just to make a hard surface, on the soft surface of the foam and balsa, so that surface can be made smooth. If you made the plug from styrene, or any hard material (cnc'c aluminum if funding permits), then the surface would not need to be covered in composite, to make it hard for finishing. When I made the hood mold for my Steelhead build, the plug was Tamiya's FJ40 lexan body. It was already shaped, surface polished, and ready to go. So I applied mold release to it, and cast a mold off of it. Ya dig?

    The mold is just a female negative, to produce more male positives with a finish already on the part. The mold took the imprint of the smoothness on the plug, to transfer that smoothness to the part. You can make a male mold to produce one-offs; but with the male mold, the inside surface of the part will be smooth, but the outside will need finishing. Not practical for mass producing, so female molds are used so one does not have to finish every part out of the mold.

    So yes, you can make the plug, make the part. When I used to produce hobby goods for a living, it was my common practice to make a female mold, in case anyone who like what I made said, "Ya man, i have got to have one of those". No probs....I made a mold. When I did my seats, I did not make a mold, so as to force myself not to produce seats. Yes I could produce some really nice stuff for the crawler truck industry (trick carbon parts, awesome bodies with the details of styrene, and the toughness of lexan), but I really want to enjoy the wee trucks as a hobby, and not a business. More of an escape from business. Trust me, this is a battle that I must always control. My hunger to earn a living says make parts. My hunger for pure hobbying says don't. So for now, I'll teach those who want some lah dee dah and strong composite parts, how to make them.

  2. #12
    BrooklinsFinest Guest

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    Great work Nigel, thanks for making a how too for this! I was big in custom car audio for many years, had a shop and everything, and I've done a lot of one off fiberglass work, but I got to say your stuff is amazing! I really appreciate this thread as my knowledge of carbon fiber is limited. I was always under the impression that epoxy and carbon fiber had to be vacuum bagged to get the best results, and you have more than proven this wrong! I will be trying this out one day soon, so thank you again! I read in one of your earlier posts that you use Rayplex as your supplier, makes sense since you're from the Shwiggity- I've always used them too, nothing but good things to say about Ray and his staff and would recommend them to anyone who wants to try a project for themselves.

  3. #13
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    I'm glad you'll find the tutorial useful.

    There are many ways and systems, to de-bulk and control the amount of resin to cloth ratio; as well as removing air-voids, and having the resin evenly saturated in the cloth.

    There is no right percentage for the above mentioned. A boat may have it lay-ups more resin-rich, to combat a watercrafts' worst enemy....water leaking in. An airplane will have just enough resin, to keep the fibers in place doing their job. One lay-up may call for high fiber ratio, so that the increased brittle-ness, helps the fibers vibrate better, such as carbon fiber reeds. Another lay-up will call for a higher resin-ratio, to reduce the amount of shock transmitted though the fibers, such as golf club / hockey sticks, and seperately-moulded chainstays, like on a long-distace road bike.

    As for de-bulking to the right thickness....Again, for what application. Carbon fibers mashed into shape, using male / female compression molds like valve covers, or as precise as the foil-shaped wing-skins on the Boing X-32. And then where tolerance does not really mater, such as a single layer over some light balsa wood, to make some cheap, light, stiff, easy to make, crawler seats. That also look techy cool.

    With composites, it's not the method that makes the end part well. It's the end part that makes the part! Methods and processes are for how you sell the parts.

  4. #14
    BrooklinsFinest Guest

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    whoa- lol... I just used fiberglass to make cars go boom! I think I'll start using CF to make toys look pretty! haha

  5. #15
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    Sep 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by nigelpheron View Post
    The glass skin on the plug is just to make a hard surface, on the soft surface of the foam and balsa, so that surface can be made smooth. If you made the plug from styrene, or any hard material (cnc'c aluminum if funding permits), then the surface would not need to be covered in composite, to make it hard for finishing. When I made the hood mold for my Steelhead build, the plug was Tamiya's FJ40 lexan body. It was already shaped, surface polished, and ready to go. So I applied mold release to it, and cast a mold off of it. Ya dig?
    I dig! Thanks for elaborating.
    The parts all look trick and again, I'm quite impressed. Awfully tempted to start tinkering... just not sure where I'd find the materials here.

  6. #16
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    I would look for any boat builders around your area, and ask for their suppliers. A lot of online suppliers exist as well.

  7. #17
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    Jan 2008
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    BC Canada
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    It's super, thanks for sharing your craft.
    I know I have a few ideas this will work for and can't wait to try it!

  8. #18
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    North Van
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    You're a master at your craft, bud! I love the items you're 'popping out'! I don't think I'll be diving head first into this immediately but it's nice to watch you create such cool stuff.

  9. #19
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    I'll have a new tutorial on another casting method soon. Just working on the plug. It's a tiny part, but if it works, it will easily solve something for FJ40 lovers. I don't want to produce the part, but I'll likely give the molds and process, to one of the venders or something. Then they can produce them. This is if it works mind ya.

    Experiment scrapped.

  10. #20
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    Default Basic Hand Lay-up, for Plate and Such.

    Basic one-sided smooth, composite plate lay-up.

    Here I'm making the 2-layer plate (1-6oz. carbon / 1-4oz. glass), that will be used on my 1.9's windshield, and various other detailng bits. You can add as many layers as needed, to make carbon fiber plate for any purpose. The drop-out plates on my bicycle, were made nearly the same way, except that another smooth plate went on the top, of the 24-layer 6oz. carbon cloth lay-up, that was then compressed with a big clamp. The molds for that were made from 3/4 aluminum plates.

    I started with something smooth for the plate mold, such as this laminated piece of MDF.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    It gets a coat of wax, then a layer of Poly Vinyl Alcohol is applied, by smearing the liquid around as the alcohol evapourates.

    VID-1

    You can hear me blowing wind on to it, to speed the evapouration up a little. Your hand can feel the liquid thickening, as you smooth it to a nice film. It's basically like a liquid cellophane. Once dry, nothing will stick to your mold.

    VID-2

    First apply resin to the mold's surface. I use my naked hand, because I am immune to Bog Rash, and I can feel exactly how much resin is being applied. Just enough to soak all the layers good (in this case 1-layer), and enough that the last layer goes on with out wetting, to soak up the extra resin that is in the main layer(s). With practice, perfect lay-ups can be achieved.

    You'll notice the wet rag I'm constantly wiping my hands with. When the epoxy resin is first mixed, you have a small window with the freshly mixed sauce, that allows it to be water-soluble. If you wait to long, the crosslinking chemicals won't break down with water, and then you will have to use acetone to clean up with. Just washing with water doesn't do as good of a job, and the wet rag does. The wet rag just seems to pull the resin away from your skin.

    VID-3

    I thought I mixed up enough sauce. Nope :oops:

    The rest of the resin went to make sure I didn't miss any areas around the cloth's edge.
    Use the metal lay-up roller, to mash-out all the trapped air, and distribute the resin evenly in the layer(s).

    VID-4

    Drape on the last layer, and try to get it in the right spot (unlike me here trying to re-position it, without wrinkling it all up). :oops: Use the roller agin to even out the resin, and take care of any trapped air. As for how much pressure to apply to the roller? When you have a lay-up that is thoroughly wet-out, but not overly wet (pooled resin, intead of moist-looking, satin-ish, weave evenly saturated, last layer), and has no surface bubble-pin holes on the smooth side. Not to worry if there are pinholes from air on the smooth side, it just means more filling work, if the smooth side is to be painted.

    VID-5

    Please feel free to ask any questions.

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