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Old 09-14-2012, 02:45 PM   #1
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Carbon fiber dash & door trim DIY

I posted a write up about this in a different part of the forum and figured it would be better suited here in the DIY section.

Now let me preface this thread by saying that though the carbon fiber materials are relatively cheap, the labor process in applying, coating and generally getting the carbon fiber to look perfect, is very long and tedious. I am going to take you step by step through this process and try to give you as much information as possible to help you with your own project if you decide to tackle it yourself.

I will also tell you that I am not a professional installer of carbon fiber. This is from the perspective of someone who just wants to save some money, but has an eye for detail. I have done work with fiberglass in the past molding a stereo system surround in my old car and some repair work on my motorcycle. I then decided to try carbon fiber about a year ago on another old car of mine and that is it, so not a ton of experience.

Now without any further delay, let me show you what I am doing.

After removal of all the pieces, I started by sanding everything down. One for good adhesion and two to reduce the thickness of the parts since the carbon fiber and resin will add up too a mm of thickness.





Next, since the parts are clear with the silver backing, I sprayed a light coat of black paint on the, just in case the fibers become separated at all and some of the plastic underneath shows through (I am using a 2x2 20 oz weigh fiber which is very dense and it's not likely that anything would show through).




After the light coat of paint, I lightly sanded it again for adhesion purposes.

I then mixed up some bonding epoxy and coated the pieces.





One the epoxy had tacked up, I laid out my pre-cut pieces of carbon fiber, making sure to keep the fibers straight so the lines look sharp and not wavy. I pressed the cloth down onto the tacky resin and worked it into the creases and edges of the items wrapped.



Now I will let the epoxy set and dry.

Once it is dry (actually next weekend when I'm off) I will coat the pieces with several layers of epoxy.

I will then post pics of that process.
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Old 09-14-2012, 02:52 PM   #2
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Old 09-14-2012, 02:57 PM   #3
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Here we go, day two.

So now the parts have all been wrapped and are ready to be coated with resin.


After mixing up my resin, which is a 2:1 ratio of resin to harder, I give the pieces a coat.





The carbon fiber really soaks up the resin and you can hardly tell that there is anything on the parts. I let the resin tack up between coats. Meaning I let the resin get sticky, not wet, but not totally dry. Also, when adding the resin, sometimes air bubbles will show up. To pop the air bubbles, I use a hair dryer set to hot and slowly go over the pieces. The hot air naturally pops the bubbles.

After a second coat:



After a third coat:




And a fourth:




Finally after five coats, the resin beginning to really cover the fiber evenly. It is still not complete, as you can see some waviness, but it is 12am now and I am going to call it a night. Tomorrow I will add another coat or more. After that I will let the resin cure until next weekend, when I will then smooth it and finally clear coat it.







I hope this is inspiring to some of you. By the way, I began doing tonight's work at about 9pm and as I said earlier, I wrapped up at 12am. Last weekend I spent about two hours prepping the parts and applying the fiber to them. So in all now five hours of work and I would estimate about $40-$45 in materials.
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Old 09-14-2012, 03:04 PM   #4
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I was asked about doing a video of the process, but I don't have much experience with editing video and since this is a long process, it would be best if the video was edited down properly. There are however, some youtube videos of carbon fiber DIY that I watched prior to my first attempt at this. So hopefully, between this write up and those videos, you will have all of the answers you need.
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Old 09-14-2012, 03:40 PM   #5
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Nice work! Looks great
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:35 PM   #6
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Can you share your knowledge on trimming the ends and securing the CF to the inserts?
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Old 09-14-2012, 04:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Can you share your knowledge on trimming the ends and securing the CF to the inserts?
The CF is secured to the parts just by the epoxy. That is a strong bond and no other method is needed. I will be trimming the excess CF off of the parts with my dremel once the epoxy is completely cured.
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:45 PM   #8
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I ordered a new console insert (the part that goes around the shifter) and the resin and epoxy today to give this a shot myself. One quick question, what are you using to smooth the fabric, and the epoxy? A bristle brush or foam brush? A bondo type of squeegee?
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringo View Post
I ordered a new console insert (the part that goes around the shifter) and the resin and epoxy today to give this a shot myself. One quick question, what are you using to smooth the fabric, and the epoxy? A bristle brush or foam brush? A bondo type of squeegee?
I used a bristle brush. Several actually, as once the resin hardens, you have to use a new brush. For smoothing out the fabric, I just lay it out and use my hands to flatten it.
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Old 09-15-2012, 01:59 AM   #10
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So I went out into the garage and started sanding and cutting off the excess CF off of the trim. I used the cut off wheel on the dremel to first get rid of the majority of the excess. Then used a sanding wheel to clean up the edges. After removing all of the excess fabric, I wet sanded the pieces with different combinations of either 220, 400 or 800 grit wet/dry sand paper. As you can see in the photos, the pieces a pretty smooth, but there are a few low spots (as you will see in the photos). I think one more coat of resin is in order, then another wet sanding with 800 grit and I can finally clear coat.

BTW the center AC trim piece was an unbelievable pain to get cleaned up, but it turned out pretty nice.

One last thing, when using the dremel, a lot of dust is created. It would be a good idea to wear a respirator of some sort and long sleeves too.
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:00 AM   #11
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I'm still working on the door panels.
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:00 PM   #12
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How'd you get the fabric to drape down into the large holes in the A/C register? I'm going to have large holes like this to deal with in my console insert. Looks good so far.
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Old 09-15-2012, 12:12 PM   #13
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:10 PM   #14
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Now thats what Im talking about. Awesome DIY, I want to try this next. I might just pick up a spare interior to try it out.
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Old 09-15-2012, 08:30 PM   #15
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I sanded down the door panels and trimmed the excess CF off of the drivers door. I wanted to see how it looked and check for fit and this is what I got: Name:  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1347758950.177842.jpg
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Not to shabby. I can't wait to finish this project, it's gonna look awesome.
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Old 09-16-2012, 05:16 AM   #16
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Looks good. Can't wait to see the finished product. Any plans for ABL?
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Old 09-16-2012, 12:15 PM   #17
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ABL isn't going to happen through carbon fiber unfortunately.
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Old 09-16-2012, 12:52 PM   #18
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No more ABL. I don't like it anyway so no big deal to me.
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:00 PM   #19
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How'd you get the center A/C vent trim out without removing the dash?
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:44 PM   #20
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How'd you get the center A/C vent trim out without removing the dash?
I have a 2012 and there is a leather piece in the middle that comes out. The AC trim is connected to that.
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:52 PM   #21
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Old 09-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringo View Post
How'd you get the fabric to drape down into the large holes in the A/C register? I'm going to have large holes like this to deal with in my console insert. Looks good so far.
You just let it drape down into the holes. Remember, I cut the extra cloth out with my dremel once it has hardened.
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Old 09-16-2012, 02:49 PM   #23
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Well done man
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Old 09-18-2012, 04:41 PM   #24
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What type of bonding epoxy did you use and what type or resin?
I was thinking of doing this but with fiberglass resin and 3m adhesion spray. (first testing it on a sample.)
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:11 PM   #25
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What type of bonding epoxy did you use and what type or resin?
I was thinking of doing this but with fiberglass resin and 3m adhesion spray. (first testing it on a sample.)
I used a thin epoxy resin. The same as what I use to coat the CF. If the fiberglass resin is a polyester resin, I would not reccomend it. Based on what I have read, polyester resin is more brittle than epoxy based resin and if it cracks, it "spiderwebs" out.
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