The material carbon fibre, better known as carbon, has many special properties that make it not only an integral part of the aerospace and racing industry. In addition to its particularly low weight, it also has extremely high rigidity and strength. In the meantime, it is impossible to imagine the automotive sector without this material, whether for its visual appearance or especially when maximum performance is required.
Types of carbon fibre
This is without doubt the strongest, lightest and most durable type of carbon fiber available. Prepreg carbon fiber means pre-impregnated carbon fiber fabric with resin in perfect proportion to give the highest strength and lightest part. It is also particularly suitable for the manufacture of very complex and large components.
The process that prepreg carbon goes through is first of all drying, followed by vacuum packing and baking the part under pressure in an autoclave for many hours. The result is a bubble-free surface with uncompromising strength. Once the part has been cut to size and passed quality control, it is finally painted to withstand even the hardest environments.
CFRP or carbon fibre reinforced polymer is a kind of hybrid/half-carbon part. This method requires two different components/materials to combine a strong, lightweight and cost-effective carbon part. The advantages are that a CFRP part can still be extremely strong and is cheaper to produce than prepreg. The production method is similar to prepreg, but instead of just placing carbon in the mould, a different material is added, usually a glass fibre fabric. After insertion, the part is then vacuum packed for hours until it cures at room temperature. In some cases an autoclave is still used for this purpose. After trimming and sanding the part a few more coats of paint are applied.
The lamination of parts produces a carbon-like part, but with far less cost and production complexity than prepregs, for example. An original part (e.g. ABS plastic) is covered with carbon fabric, similar to a mold with prepreg carbon, but with the original part as a base for real carbon fabric and resin application. After wet application or vacuum infusion of resin (depending on the application), the part is sanded and painted. The part is inherently heavier and not as stiff as a full prepreg part, but in most cases it is much less expensive.