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Now I know you will have heard of carbon fibre. But not everyone knows that not carbon fibre is the same. Over the last 10 years the cost of carbon fibre products has dropped dramatically as manufacturers and suppliers rush to find new ways to make the material cost effective to build. We’ll go through the 3 key ways that carbon fibre car accessories are built, the advantages and pitfalls of each and what to look out for.
This is without a doubt, the lightest, strongest and most durable Carbon Fibre available. This is widely used in the aerospace industry and motorsport, including Formula 1. Prepreg Carbon Fibre means, Carbon Fibre Cloth has been pre-impregenated with resin to the perfect ratio giving the lightest and strongest part possible. This is how our AUTOID TRE range of products are produced.
The process which Pre-preg carbon goes through is initial dry lay-up (where the cloth is laid into a mould and prepared) followed by the part being placed in a bag and air being vacuumed. When in the vacuumed bag, it is then cooked under high pressure in an Autoclave for many hours. What comes out is a near enough perfect pinhole free finish with un-compromised strength. Once the part has been trimmed and quality control checks passed, it is then lacquered to withstand even the harshest environments.
Now whilst this is the best possible version of carbon fibre, it’s also the most expensive.
CFRP or Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer is a carbon fibre hybrid composite. This method takes two different, but similar, materials to combine into a high strength, light and and cost effective carbon part. As a result, a CFRP part can still be very strong but less expensive to produce than the equivalent pre-preg part. The method of production is actually very similar to pre-preg but instead of laying just carbon into the mould, another material is added, generally fibre glass in the automotive industry. After the lay-up, the part is then vacuum bagged for hours until set at room temperature (or in some applications an autoclave is still used). Similar to pre-preg, once set, the item is checked and then lacquered.
This method is widely used and is purely for aesthetics. It offers a carbon looking part the high costs associated with moulds and the full pre-preg process. The original part is laid with carbon cloth in much the same way a mould is laid with pre-preg carbon but with the original part being used as a backing for genuine carbon cloth and resin application. The original part is coated in a wet resin with the cloth then laid on top. It's then left to dry and the part is rubbed down and lacquered. The part is naturally heavier than a full pre-preg part, however it is more cost effective in most circumstances.
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