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Old 05-09-2010, 02:58 PM   #1
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Carbon Fiber vs. Hydrocarbon

I want some of our vendors and members to come together and give us some data on the differences between hydrocarbon and carbon fiber. The best, most scientific contributions may be added to the Wiki for reference.

Here is some of the comparative information I want to post in the Wiki:
  • appearance comparison
  • texture comparison
  • weight when given the same size piece (use a scale, no estimates)
  • strength of each
  • longterm durability comparison
  • cost of construction for each

Let's not forget the most important guideline.
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Old 05-09-2010, 03:18 PM   #2
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Hydro Carbon is just a sticker overlay.
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Old 05-09-2010, 03:24 PM   #3
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There are 3 styles.

Hydro Carbon
Carbon Fiber (lamination)
Solid Carbon fiber

Hydro Carbon - It’s a process that transfers selected ink patterns onto 3D or contoured surfaces. The film is placed on water and the high-molecular base begins to dissolve, a patented chemical activator is sprayed over it, causing the ink to remain floating in an oil like state on top of water. The part is then immersed into water and the upward pressure of the water causes the ink to wrap around and adhere to the part.

Process -
1. All parts are sanded down and smoothed out for any imperfections and are carefully inspected.
2. We then prime the products to be ready to go to the paint booth.
3. The next step is applying the PPG paint color of your choice or base color.
4. The next step is to dip the product in the imersion tank to apply the carbon fiber film pattern.
5. After the pattern is dry and baked on we then apply 3 coats of PPG clearcoat and polish to become a show stopping,deep, guaranteed long lasting finish.

Carbon Fiber (lamination)
From Wiki
Carbon fiber (carbon fibre), alternatively graphite fiber, carbon graphite or CF, is a material consisting of extremely thin fibers about 0.005–0.010 mm in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in microscopic crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber. The crystal alignment makes the fiber very strong for its size. Several thousand carbon fibers are twisted together to form a yarn, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric.[1] Carbon fiber has many different weave patterns and can be combined with a plastic resin and wound or molded to form composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic (also referenced as carbon fiber) to provide a high strength-to-weight ratio material. The density of carbon fiber is also considerably lower than the density of steel, making it ideal for applications requiring low weight.[2] The properties of carbon fiber such as high tensile strength, low weight, and low thermal expansion make it very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. However, it is relatively expensive when compared to similar materials such as fiberglass or plastic. Carbon fiber is very strong when stretched or bent, but weak when compressed or exposed to high shock (eg. a carbon fiber bar is extremely difficult to bend, but will crack easily if hit with a hammer).

Lamination meaning that a sheet of REAL carbon fiber is laid over top of a already pre-molded part (fiberglass, plastic) then resin etc is laid on top of it.

Not all Carbon Fiber (lamination) is the same. Some of it is made in China and some of those cheaper products use cheap resin which will turn colors and crack over time.

Hydrocarbon looks good and in inexpensive, but carbon fiber has a depth and 3D effect to it that just can't be achieved with anything else. Solid Carbon Fiber panels is what F1 uses along with other racing and aircraft use but are usually so expensive that the average car buyer would not pay for it but appears the same as the real carbon fiber (lamination).

As far as weight goes.

OEM Piece = x weight
Hydro Part = x plus the weight of paint
Carbon Fiber (Lamination) = x plus the carbon fiber materiel, resin, clear
Solid Carbon Fiber = a whole brand new part = less weight

Photo comparison of Carbon Fiber (lamentation) vs. Hydro Carbon

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Old 06-15-2010, 11:00 AM   #4
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Whoa. This is the first sticky in the "Other cars Disscusion".

Carry on.
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:42 PM   #5

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I've got a fair amount of experience designing and fabricating composite structures from my college days so maybe I can add some useful information.

I was team lead for the following unmanned aircraft competition for the 2005-2006 year (before they won).

The aircraft you see there is primarily composed of carbon fiber structures produced using a variety of techniques. The design shown on the website is pretty close to what we had when I was on the team, a configuration I did probably 80% of the structural design for.

Originally Posted by Indpowr View Post
Lamination meaning that a sheet of REAL carbon fiber is laid over top of a already pre-molded part (fiberglass, plastic) then resin etc is laid on top of it.
The thing I would add here is that CF can also be had in whats known as "pre-preg" where the CF cloth comes from the factory with resin already in it. You then just lay up your CF layers on your mold and cure.

The end result is a lot more consistent than a wet lay up or vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) technique but the materials cost is quite a bit higher. Storage is also more of an issue because you typically must store pre-preg under refrigerated conditions to keep it from curing on its own.

To give you an idea of the expense of pre-preg, our aircraft above had a wingspan of 128in and weighed in at 55 lbs. We used $5000+ in pre-preg carbon fiber to build it.

Originally Posted by Indpowr View Post
OEM Piece = x weight
Hydro Part = x plus the weight of paint
Carbon Fiber (Lamination) = x plus the carbon fiber materiel, resin, clear
Solid Carbon Fiber = a whole brand new part = less weight
An improperly designed CF part can actually weigh more that an equivalent metal part. In order for a CF part to realize all the advantages of composite materials, you have to have very well defined load paths and you have to design the part such that its greatest load carrying capability is along those paths, with less load carrying capability in other areas. Treating CF like an isotropic material (same properties in all directions, ie black aluminum) which its not, will result in a lot of excess weight.

The Beech Starship is a prime example of this phenomenon.

Maybe I'm going too deep into things but hopefully someone will find the information interesting...
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:22 PM   #6
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Excellent info... Do you have any experience with cored layups that you would like to share? The marine industry seems to love it.
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