The first, and most critical, step in making something out of carbon fiber, be it a car hood, hard hat, or wallet, is to design it such that it can be made with one of the various carbon fiber manufacturing methods.
After finishing the design of your carbon fiber part via CAD or by modifying an existing part, you need to create either a plug or a mold. The choice between these two options is critical and will be dependent on your manufacturing method as well as your end goal.
A plug looks like the final part we want to make, and it’s used to give the mold it’s shape. Sometimes we can use an existing part as a plug – this is called making a “splash plug”, which we talk more about in our article Splash Plug Fabrication.
If you're looking to replicate an existing part, creating a splash mold is a fast, easy, and inexpensive alternative to machining a plug from foam. Splash molding also ensures that the part will interface correctly with any surrounding components. The post below outlines the basic splash molding process.
In our Plug Machining blog, we learned the basics of using a CNC machine to fabricate a plug out of high-density foam. Before the plug can be used to make a mold, a few finishing steps must be undertaken to properly prepare the plug surface.
A gelcoat and fiberglass-based mold is an excellent option for smaller production runs, typically up to 100 parts. While not as durable as aluminum or steel, they are adequate for many types of parts and can be created with much simpler tools and cheaper materials.
Applying fiberglass and resin backing to tooling gelcoat, or 'mold lamination', is the final step in creating a fiberglass mold. In this post we will cover best practices for applying the fiberglass and stiffening the mold.
Once you have finished laminating your fiberglass mold, there are a few steps to complete before you can make parts. In this post we’ll walk you through how to remove the plug from the mold and how to properly prepare it for laying up your first part.
In this post you will learn about the infusion process, one of the most common ways to fabricate carbon fiber parts. We typically use the infusion process for parts that are 20 square feet or less, that have intricate detail and the end parts needs to be light weight and high strength.
If you don't want to spend the time or money making molds off of an existing part, wrapping the part in carbon fiber is always an option. In this blog we will walk through the steps required to wrap a pair of canards in carbon fiber.