• Feb 25, 2007
Fake trim is for the birds. Of course, there are cost considerations, and a piece of lower-cost injection-molded plastic is a lot cheaper than actual wood, metal, or laboriously laid carbon fiber. Faux trim can be awfully convincing – the metal-look trims in my S60 T5 are a far nicer touch than the faux wood that came in the lesser models. The north-woods car nuts at Hemmings have gotten the scoop on DIY carbon fiber from Vermont SportsCar, the guys that make Subarus fly. Since the learning curve is rather steep, we suggest starting off with interior trim pieces before going toward something more structural.

The process is similar to fiberglass, though a little trickier. You make a sandwich of cloth and resin and then cure it in a cheap and nasty autoclave. Yes, the word autoclave sounds fancy, but it amounts to little more than a cardboard box and a space heater -- incredibly dangerous if you're not paying attention. We like that. The added risk of torching your entire shop will make the completion of your first very crappy parts that much sweeter. Basic parts aren't that expensive to make – Hemmings reports the materials will knock you back about $100 or less. The Vermonters were even kind enough to include a link to a how-to, so if you get good enough, you can cash in by making body parts for all those clapped out Corollas and Civics.

[Source: Hemmings]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wow where do I start Chris... Your ultimate strength will not matter if you put 500 gallons of resin on the part, the specific strength is what you are referring to. Carbon fiber layup is so easy if you have a basic idea of what you are doing. You lay the dry fiber weave down at the center of the mold and work out both ways, do not brush the resin in dab it. The weight of the weave also plays a huge part in how your part will turn out. I just made a show quality carbon fiber rear fender for my street bike. I have abother issue with this post, why are you using epoxy? Did you get taken for because you dont know what cheaper alternatives that would suffice?
        craig
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hi mike

        you sound like you know what youre doing so can you help?
        im a grp laminater by trade and have recently been toying with carbon fibre.
        i made a grp mould of a cam cover for my impreza and bought some carbon fibre.
        gave the mould a clear gel coat first then when ready layed up a single carbon fibre sheet with polyester resin.
        the first one came out ok looked really good the ones that followed just got worse with air bubles in the weave and resin.
        have you any tips or can you tell me where im going wrong?

        best regards

        craig.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hey, first you need yo use epoxy not polyester, a valve cover is way to hot for polyester and it will degrade. Second are you using a mold release? Wax or Liquid? Third are you pulling vacuum? Fourth what weight/weave CF are you using?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah, and there's a difference between a kiln and an autoclave. An autoclave is basically a pressure cooker, it uses pressure and heat to cure. A kiln just uses heat.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It also makes a truly time-consuming and difficult process seem easy. This DIY is all well-and-good if you intend to sand, prep, and paint the parts if they're meant to be cosmetic (or if they're meant for ready-to-abuse rally cars), but if you intend to have visible weave, it's incredibly difficult to do as a DIY. Saying it's just a little tougher than fiberglass is a gross understatement. Fiberglass work never requires keeping the weave aesthetically intact.

      The care you must take with the cloth (not getting any of the strands out of line) and the resin (making sure each coat is super-smooth) is hardly something to make light of. Also, the curing time for the resin is often days until it's dry to the touch (especially for larger parts), and a lot can happen in those days. After the layer build-up, the piece must be stored in the mold in a place that is absolutely devoid of dust or the surface will be compromised. Alternatively, the piece may be vacuum bagged and put in a kiln/"autoclave" overnight.

      Basically, it's best left to the pros.
      • 7 Years Ago
      One more thing, room temp cure epoxy is the worst thing I have ever heard of, if you dont have to cure it above room temp there is no reason to use epoxy.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I made some carbon/kevlar hoods and trunk lids for my race car. If you use the right type of epoxy, an autoclave isn't required. You won't get the same ultimate strength, and my parts certainly weren't show car quality, but it can be done. Aircraft Spruce and Fiberglast are two suppliers that provide just about everything you need. Vacuum bagging using a room temperature cure epoxy is also possible.

      http://www.risensonracing.com/images/bodywork/bodywork-Pages/Image9.html

      Sean is correct, getting a good, straight weave for an exposed carbon surface is not easy.
      craig
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hi again

      I was using 2x2 twill weave which is the look im after, its more of a look that i want than thwe weight loss and stregth.
      I use all different types of mould release and the mould is polished before hand. very handy as i work in a fibreglass factory.

      basicaly im trying to get the best possible finsih using wet layup. im getting better now but still have tiny bubble that sometimes ruin a perfect peace.

      hope you can help

      regards

      craig
      Greg Conway
      • 3 Years Ago
      There is great additional information at www.carbonfiberdiy.com. A lot of comprehensive diy guides.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why does the lead-in to this post talk about fake metal and wood trim? This Hemmings post talks about making your own carbon fiber parts, and they're not talking about trim. The appropriate use of carbon fiber is for strength and weight savings, not to add unnecessary weight with trim applied using double-sided tape.
      • 7 Years Ago
      You can achieve a pretty convincing fake carbon fiber look by using a piece of rubber drawer liner for a mask. Start with black for a base and then put on the mask and spray over with silver or graphite/gunmetal/etc. Then finish with a few extra coats of clear coat to get that transparent look.