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adam120674 09-09-2004 03:15 PM

How can I make carbon fiber
I was thinking of a color for my interior to go with the color of my truck (orange), then I seen a Eclipse that was orange with a carbon fiber dash, it was SHARP!:P I have a 51 ford f1 and want to make a head liner and door panels. I know you need a sheet of carbon fiber cloth and an epoxy or resin., but does any one know the procedure. I have a friend that works with and builds molds for fiberglass, so I could do it if it had to be vacumed down. Any website that sell the material I need would also help:drool:

dmc12mk3 09-09-2004 07:20 PM

The procedure for molding carbon fiber bits is exactly the same as fiberglass except that once you use the special resin for the carbon fiber, you put it in a big oven (autoclave).

MattWatson 09-15-2004 09:18 AM

It is not strictly true that you have to put carbon fiber cloth in an autoclave to produce it.

For non-structural carbon fiber, mostly for things like what you are doing, (dashes, panneling, trim) it is not nessesary to use structural Pre-Preg type carbon fiber. Most of the time, to get a carbon fiber look piece, (note, when using a female mould) the clear gelcoat is laid, then the carbon fiber, then (# depending on the strength required) layers of either fiberglass for normal applications, or kevlar for higher strenght applications. This will give the look of carbon fiber without the high cost of just using carbon fiber. I can't remember wich resin works best for the carbon fiber "look", I think it is epoxy. One of the two (vinyl ester is the other...) clouds the finish.

For carbon fiber that is used in formula one and other manufacturers products (mostly monocouqe construction) carbon fiber is used in a pre-impregnated format. This is the carbon fiber cloth pre-impregnated in resin. Now, since this resin is already added, it can't be cured by normal mean with the hardener, or else it would cure in the cloth before it would even be useful, so the resin is activated by baking it at higher temperatures under pressure. Since this type of carbon fiber is already impregnated with resin, there is a weight savings because there is never any extra resin in the weave, just enough to properly cure the part. Also CF is stronger than glass fiber, so it will take less sheets to lay up a part. But because of the costs needed to purchase and cure Pre-preg, it is almost exclusively reserved for manufacturers and race teams, or people with outragously large budgets.


adam120674 09-15-2004 07:24 PM

So if I make a mold, apply a resin, then the fiber, work the resin though the fiber I can then just let it air dry? If so that the way I want to go. Will I still need to vacuum it down?

MattWatson 09-15-2004 11:47 PM

Well... air dry is the wrong wording... Yes it cures at room temp (or lower...) since you are using the same resin as for normal fiberglass... but the resin used cures by chemical reaction (thats why it produces heat).

Oh and a tip that I forgot to mention is if you are planning on doing any perfectly flat panels, you can just use a sheet of glass for your mould.

Vacume bagging wouldn't hurt, but you don't strictly need to do this. It would make sure there are no bubbles (or help, most of that is up to you when you are laying it...) but other than that it is not nessesary. Treat the carbon fiber as you would fiberglass essentially... and you WILL need to back the CF with fiberglass or kevlar at least a couple layers, since it would break if it is not reinforced. YOu could use CF, but it is not nessesary, and frankly quite expensive.

Oh and FYI, you can get fiberglass (strand/mat/weave), CF, and Kevlar from Http://

Others have done it without a mould... but because you want to have the CF patern on your stuff, you CAN NOT sand it at all, it would sand through the CF layer, and then destroy the weave patern. so I think that A female rather than a male mould would be the only way to go about this.

Note that I am in no way a composite expert... Just saw you were getting no insight what so ever, so I thought I would chime in.. Most of my "knowledge" comes from doing lots of research into moulding some custom pannels for cars... I just ended up with a good solid car, so that wasn't needed. Though I am considering taking a mould of the fenders once they are nice and straight.


Matt Watson

adam120674 09-16-2004 04:22 AM

Thanks, bro:thumbup: you've been very helpful

blndweasel 09-23-2004 01:19 PM

The easiest method is simple wet layup of CF on existing parts. I have done this extensively using epoxy resin. If you are fabricating something, then it gets very pricy as far as making just one plug of the part... the supplies for building a mold are better invested if you're planning on doing multiple plugs in some sort of production environment.

Take a look in my gallery and you can see some shots of my Kawasaki I did wet-layup on. After you polish the epoxy, it looks pretty fantastic. The only thing to be careful about with epoxy is that any moisture in the air will cause a cloudy effect in the final product... its difficult to avoid, but minimally noticable if you are careful and don't use multiple layers of resin.

Your best bet:

Build a model of what you want to install. Leave some space for buildup if you're mounting it and need a specific dimension to make it fit. typically a single layer of fiber and epoxy will build about 3/32" or more depending on how liberally you apply the resin. Next. Paint your model part black. Use flat black, and leave the surface rough so there is good adhesion. Next, mix up some resin and paint it over the surface with a brush. Let the resin tack up (toward the end of its pot life, and beyond) and then apply a sheet of fiber. it will stick easily and mold to the surface if your resin is appropriately tacky. now, ideally at this point you would have a buddy who's prepped another batch of resin for you for the final lamination. using a glasskoter brush, apply the laminating layer of resin to the entire object. obviously it is best to do this in a dust free environment. use a fast curing epoxy. if you get a good buildup you can then polish the item until you can see your reflection in it.

pm me if you have more questions. this is not an easy process, you'll ideally want lots of practice before you do something as blatantly cosmetic as a dashboard.

another factor is you'll have to UV-proof the dash... some sort of clear coat. Not really sure, I haven't made it that far.

Good luck


i take it back, the photos in my gallery suck

don't go by those as what the end product of wet layup looks like. its much more attractive in person.

i'll see if i can post some better shots.

fourbyfourblazer 09-30-2004 08:45 PM

I found this site on making carbon fiber. It goes into great detail and has pictures to help understand the process. It's an 8 page article titled "Elemetary Composition - Knowledge of Composite Materials, from Fiberglass to Carbon Fiber."

How to: Make Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber Parts

Bluepen 10-01-2004 04:37 AM

I don't know how to make carbon fiber panels or anything but I work around it everyday on military aircraft and something we stress ALLOT to all my folks is that you must wear a respirator to protect your lungs. The fibers will mess up your lungs in a very nasty way. Just becareful.


MattWatson 10-01-2004 03:44 PM

I would also recomend a respirator when mixing and laying the resin as it is really really bad smelling stuff, and is probably pretty bad for you...

lowdown99 10-27-2004 10:55 AM

carbon fiber
probably the best source for carbon fiber and info is they have all the supplies and info you could want for carbon fiber and fiberglass to marine floatation foam to sculpt new dashes and door panels , you may also search the internet for fishman products they sell fish fabric which is used to build free form fiberglass speaker enclosures and door panels

'74 Sport 11-03-2004 01:46 PM

More carbon fiber info
Another good site with lots of information on carbon fiber is:

I bought some carbon fiber fabric from them to make new dash inserts for my son's '74 Dodge Dart Sport and replace the old woodgrain. I haven't figured out which resin to use, yet. I'm hoping some of you work out the details before I get to that point.

Jerry 11-03-2004 03:04 PM

How about an upholstered 'cabon fiber' dash?

See this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

fourbyfourblazer 11-03-2004 09:52 PM

hmmm... i'm wondering what my dash would look like covered in carbon fiber vinyl. Probably look like something off of "Pimp my Ride"

It also mentions 500hrs of UV protection. So after 21 days the vinyl falls apart? 11-03-2004 10:30 PM

If you are not experience in building fiberglass parts I wager the vinyl would look a tad better than your real carbon part!!;)

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