How are carbon fibers made? (part 2)

So I just want to continue what I was talking about yesterday, and what is the mechanism and whole idea behind the creation of carbon fibers. Let’s get right to it.

So high pressure heated rollers thin out the resin so it penetrates the millions of carbon fiber filaments. Cooling plates then turn the liquid resin to gel so that the next station can remove the paper which pulls off easily thanks to the release agent. The next station covers the top of the pre break sheet with polyester film. This prevents the pregreg sheet from sticking to  itself at the end of the line when it’s round into a roll like a fruit roll lot. In the factories’s lab, technicians run quality control tests on pregreg samples. First they weigh the sample, then they wash off the resin with chemicals and weight the sample again. This verifies whether the ratio of carbon fiber to resin is correct. The lab also analyzes samples of composite. In a tensile strength test the computer measures how much strain the sample withstands before breaking. Such testing insures the carbon fiber delivers optimum strength, durability and heat resistance. Whether it’s used to make an auto part or a golf club.

Carbon fiber car parts (such as bumpers and spoilers) are nearly as strong as steel ones, and yet they are 1/5 their weight. Of course a car that weights less accelerates more quickly and burns less gas. So carbon fiber offers style that actually does go that extra mile. Custom spoilers, bumpers and other parts make a vehicle more aerodynamic. When the parts are made of carbon fiber they create this effect without the hindrance of extra weight. It’s easy to get carried away with all the extras however (many people will install funny looking things in the back of their cars.) Carbon fiber parts are made of fabric that is tightly woven with very fine threads of virtually pure carbon. To transform the material into a rigid car part they begin with paste wax. They brush it into the crevices of a fiberglass mold. This mold is for a car rocker panel. The wax seals the mold and also serves as a non stick coating. They protect the lip of the mold with masking tape. Then they spray a nonstick substance polyvinyl alcohol into the fiberglass form. Now they’re ready for the carbon fiber material: they unroll it and spray it with adhesive. Despite the nonstick coatings, the want is fabric to stick to the mold for a while. The glue will gradually dissolve into the material. They press the glued carbon fiber material onto the lip of the mold. After all they don’t want any wrinkles in their job. This material has yet to gain its steely strength so they easily trim the excess.

They layer the fabric 7 times, again: following the lines of the mole. They apply a permeable material called flow media to the carbon fiber layers. They place plastic mesh on top of the flow media, and tuck into the curves of the mold. They frame the layers with double sided tape, which sticks because this area was taped off earlier to protect from the nonstick spray. The double sided tape is called butyl tape. They drape a plastic bag over the mold and press the edges to the butyl tape for an airtight seal. They work specially on the bag and close the plate with more tape. The plates give the plastic bags some slack. They push the folds into every crevice of the mold and then turn on a vacuum. As the vacuum sucks the air out, the bag compresses the layers in the mold. Meanwhile, they activate some plastic resin with a chemical catalyst. They place a hose in the resin. The other end is attached as a vacuum bag. As the vacuum continues to draw air out of the bag, it pulls the resin into it. The resin saturates the seven layers of carbon fiber to laminate them into the shape of the car part. After the part is completed, it’s ready to come out of the mold. Cleaning it up reveals the solid union of epoxy resin and layers of carbon fiber fabric. Carbon fiber can be molded almost into any vehicle accessory. Its versatility is one of its strengths. They need to match the vehicle. Departs blend with the least adding some aerodynamic flash to a wonderful road show.

So that’s it…now this topic I can finally say has been completed and is ready for all you people to just digest and understand. I know all of you will have questions. Don’t send them all at once (I’m only human) but definitely get them over to me.

Thank you all for your support – a lot more interesting topics coming your way in the near future.