For many motorists the desire to customize their car has become a truly obsessive idea. Want to change their “iron horse”, make it more bright, unlike the others. So, one of the most popular directions of external and internal tuning is the use of carbon fiber. But what is this material, what are its advantages and disadvantages, how it can be used. Let’s deal with these questions in more detail.
What is carbon fiber and how does it differ from carbon fiber?
The production of such a popular composite material was established long ago. At the beginning of the 20th century, the British from Farnborough showed the public the first parts made of this miracle material. It is based on a huge number of interlaced carbon threads, which are attached to each other with epoxy resin. To give the material maximum strength, they are laid at a certain angle to each other. It is the carbon filaments that are the main element of this composite material. Despite their minimal thickness, they are impossible to break or tear. The pattern of the modern fiberglass polymer can be made in the form of a cattail, herringbone and other figures.
Carbon is actively used in many areas of life, but in car tuning most of all. This material is used to make spoilers, hoods, and various interior and body elements. If you are going to build an ultralight chassis, then using this carbon material is a must. Besides, carbon fiber has found its application not only in cars – it is actively used for production of the main parts of boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles and other types of transport.
Advantages and disadvantages of carbon fiber
The material “carbon” is quite specific in its structure and features, so it has both positive and negative sides. The main advantages are lightness and durability. As for durability, thanks to a special weave of threads, this composite material is not inferior to many modern metals. The weight of carbon is almost half that of steel and 1/5 that of aluminum.
Carbon: what is the tensile strength?
Have you heard about the unique tensile strength of fiberglass? Well, a part made of carbon fiber has much better characteristics in this regard. That’s why this particular composite is used in motorsport, where special attention is paid to pilots’ safety and achievement of results. Any reduction in the weight of the car while maintaining the maximum level of strength is only a plus.
How much stronger is this carbon fiber than metal?
But there are obvious disadvantages to carbon fiber. Many tuning fans are dissuaded from buying carbon fiber elements due to their high cost. If you compare it to the same fiberglass, then carbon is much more expensive. As a reason we can give just the unique technological complexity of the production process. And the source materials themselves cost manufacturers a pretty penny. For example, the bonding of different layers in the material is carried out with high-quality and expensive resins. In addition, manufacturing companies have to buy specialized and expensive equipment for the production of carbon.
But these are not all the disadvantages of the popular material for tuning. Practice shows that this composite material is very afraid of point and strong impacts. Even a small pebble will be enough to pierce through a carbon fiber element of your car. After a few years of operation, the same hood may look like a real sieve. In addition, carbon does not like sunlight. If you do not hide the car in the garage and leave it outside, soon the original color will be lost.
We have already mentioned the sensitivity of this composite to various impacts. So, if damaged, this material cannot be repaired. The only way out for the motorist is only a complete replacement of the part, and this, as you have already understood, is a serious cost.
Is carbon imitation possible?
The average car enthusiast doesn’t care how strong or lightweight carbon fiber is. The main thing is that it looks very nice – that’s what attracts fans of tuning. Therefore, there is no need to use the original expensive material – its imitation is enough.
Today you can imitate carbon fiber by several different methods. The most popular (exactly because of its availability) received a special PVC carbon film, duplicating the original pattern. Similar “substitutes” today a lot, in a variety of designs. With construction dryer and film you can wrap almost any part of interior and exterior of your car, giving it an unusual look of carbon. Of course, it is not always possible to wrap small elements at the first time, but if you practice, then even this task becomes feasible. If the work still have problems, you can always turn to the masters of their craft. There are a lot of organizations that are engaged in this type of tuning today.
The second option of imitation carbon fiber is the so-called aqua-printing. Here also a special film is wrapped, but it is applied under water pressure. It is impossible to do such a job in a “garage” – you need additional equipment. The advantage of this method is the higher quality of tuning. The film, unlike the previous method, can be applied even on the most “curvy” parts. If the treatment is done properly and in compliance with the technology, the appearance will not differ from that of real carbon fiber.