Manufacturing Carbon Fibre Vehicle Aero & Trim

  • Hey guys!

    So recently I’ve been looking at how much the cost of carbon fibre cloth is, and its really reasonable. It also does not look all that hard of a process to do, at least for the wet moulding. I’m just going to lay out my plan for doing it, and see what your opinion is on it. I’d also like to learn how to do this to make carbon parts for other projects.

    So first things first, I want to make a design of a winglet for the front bumper of my car in AutoCAD. It’s essentially a small vertical wing about 10cm tall that generates turbulence down the side of the vehicle. Once the CAD design was done, I would have it 3D printed and test fit it on my car. The next step would be to make a fibreglass mould. I would do this by first laying a gel coat on the model, and then laying progressive layers of fibreglass mat and resin, flip it and do it on the other side. Once that’s dry, pry them apart, and start laying the carbon cloth along with the epoxy resin. After combining the moulds together, and letting the part dry, I would pull the mould and trim the finished part with a Dremel and a file.

    Let me know what you guys think

  • This is a very interesting plan. You need to be careful of carbon fibre dust of course, but I’m also interested in doing some things of this nature.

    I have a roll of CF tow intended to replicate this experiment:

    I’d like to quantify the cost/weight/strength trade-off in:
    * Printing with more plastic
    * Printing for reinforcement with CF
    * Printing for reinforcement with fibreglass.

    I suspect that FG will be the way to make cheap, really strong, printed parts. I have a decent set of hydraulic gear (hand pump and jacks) that I could add a gauge to and measure relative breaking forces.

    The other material I’m interested in working with using 3d-printed forms is Micarta. Essentially layers of paper or cloth set up with the same two-part resins used for FG and CF… You can get beautiful wood-like textures by using contrasting coloured layers. Which makes me want to texture the mold used to form the slab and get inner layers to show through only when it is sanded smooth.

  • We are in the process of buying a 3D printer that embeds carbon fiber, kevlar, or fiberglass in the base material. The finished parts are supposed to be the same strength as machined aluminum.


  • @BrianB is that one of the machines that embeds chopped up fibers as a filler into the print? I’ve heard that they require some effort to keep the nozzles from wearing out, and am eager to hear about your experiences with it… If you’re willing to do some sample prints, we could expand the testing protocol to include some machined metal parts, and fibre-printed parts.

    I’m planning on making fairly standard sized tube couplers, and measuring how much weight must be hung a fixed distance from the coupler on a steel rod to blow out the wall of the tube. Figure-8 wrapping with different materials as needed.

  • Some 3D printers such as the markforged will actually lay down carbon fiber strands along a single plane. This would be very strong although the print area will be substantially less than width of a car.

    As an aside there is a startup company in Kamloops that make carbon fibre mountain bike rims locally. Check out WeAreOne Composites. May be a resource worth trying to connect to.

  • It’s the Markforged printers we are looking at. If things go as planned, we will be getting a Mark Two and an X7.


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