Carbon Fiber Products


Starting on a Cadillac CTS-V set…

A former Audi customer of mine contacted me a few weeks ago about doing a custom set of carbon fiber trim for his 2008 Cadillac CTS-V.  I’ve always wanted to do a higher end American car, especially one that performs as well as the CTS-V, so I happily obliged.  The trim I got from him is pretty standard, 4 door pieces, 3 slender dash pieces (two smaller ones on each side of the steering wheel and one longer one in front of the passenger seat), as well as a piece on either side of the shifter.

Pretty disappointing that GM would use this patterned sticker stuff over plastic trim.  This is the kind of stuff you’d expect on a base model.  Not really sure if it is supposed to replicate carbon fiber or a type of aluminum or what, but I can understand why people would want to change it out.

The customer indicated he wanted a custom 4×4 twill fabric, instead of the standard 2×2 twill fabric (a 1×1 fabric, also known as plain, is woven over, under, over, under.  2×2 would be over over, under under.  4×4 fabric is over over over over, under under under under).

The first step is laying out the pieces on the fabric and cutting it down to the correct size.

Next we start the basic wrap, slowly smoothing the fabric over each piece, ensuring the weave is straight and undistorted.

After a little while with the scissors and some tape, the pieces are done.

I was particularly proud of this piece.

The fabric wrapped around this edge perfectly.

The non-door pieces were a little more difficult and time consuming, but I was able to get them laid and was happy with how they turned out.

After this has a bit of time to cure, I’ll start brushing on epoxy and building the pieces up.  Stay tuned for more progress on these pieces in the coming weeks.

Keep an eye out for installed photos of these center caps…

Custom order from a very good customer of mine.  OEM 5 star center caps wrapped in 20oz 2×2 twill.  I’m very excited to see how these look on the car.  I love subtle touches of carbon like this that might not get noticed by the average person.

Check out this silver set we’re working on…

for a B8 A4.  It’s the first silver “carbon fiber” (which is actually aluminum coated fiberglass) trim set for a B8 we’ve done and it is turning out fantastic.  The epoxy is all cured now and it will be trimmed down, sanded smooth, and clearcoated in the next week or so.  I can’t wait to see how this looks installed in a black Audi interior.

Here are a few shots from the production:

First the pieces are prepped and the fabric is cut.

Then the pieces are added to the vacuum system and a bag is placed on top.

A vacuum pump removes the air and begins to hug the stiff fabric around the complex edges and curves of each piece.

After a time in the vacuum, the pieces are removed and are ready for epoxy.

First few layers of epoxy.

After many layers of epoxy the pieces are ready to start curing.

First “OEM” vent and MMI pieces finished…

and I couldn’t be happier.  I’m sorry these aren’t the best photos, but I wanted to post these up today because of how great they turned out.  I’ll get the mini studio setup later this weekend and take some better photos and post them on Monday.

MMI piece re-assembled.  I will not be including the button if you ordered a set of these, you’ll have to pop in your own.  I just stuck it in so you could see what it looked like installed.

I’m pretty happy with the gap and how flush the piece is.  There is still a very slight overhang as the carbon piece is just ever so slightly thicker.  I’m going to see about ordering even thinner mounting tape and will continue to see if I can improve this aspect of the piece, but I don’t think anyone will be unhappy with how it currently is.

It is nice to see the detail in the ridge of the piece along the bottom and right hand side.  It was nonexistent on the hand laid pieces, but is perfect on these ones that have been vacuum bagged.

I took some more photos of the vent piece under the same lighting for comparison.

Love how deep the gloss is.

I was concerned before I started these pieces on whether or not I could get the chrome ring flush or not, but as you can see after the fact, it turned out perfect.

Making simple molds for the B8 vent and MMI pieces…

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on various improvements to help with the production of the B8 “OEM” carbon fiber vent and MMI pieces.  I spent the last day or so making simple foam molds that help support the pieces under vacuum.  Previous brackets would cave in under full vacuum.  Running the pump at half vacuum meant sometimes the edges of carbon fiber wouldn’t be totally conformed around the part because the seal wasn’t as tight as it could be.  After having to redo a few pieces, I decided it was time to make some molds.

To make our foam mold, I’m going to use a pour foam.  It is very similar to the expanding insulating/sealing foam sold in cans at the hardware store.  It comes in two parts, and you mix them 1:1 to start making your foam.

For demonstration purposes, I’ll do a small test run first with 1oz of each of the materials.

After 60 seconds of mixing, the foam turns from dark brown to a light brown and starts to thicken up.

15 seconds later and the expansion starts

Within 2 minuets the foam has engulfed the cup.

The foam also emits a massive amount of heat.

5 minutes later and the foam is sold.

As you can see I’ve had a bit of fun testing out various mixing techniques and amounts to try to get a solid foam that I was happy with.

Time to get serious with our MMI mold.  I lay plastic wrap in the oven tray so that the foam doesn’t stick to it.

The B8 S5 MMI piece gets the same treatment.

A 1:1 mixture, this time 12 total ounces.

You really have to whip it quickly, as it starts to start foaming within a minute or two.

Once its ready, pour the mixture over the part.

Same rapid expansion as before, just on a bigger scale.

I want to compact the foam a little bit to ensure that it fills in all the gaps around the part, so I place some plastic wrap on top of the foam and pat it down a bit.

This one gets up to 160F.

A couple of minutes later, the foam is hard and ready to be popped out.

Now comes the fun part of shaping the mold, this time with a B8 S4 piece that was made earlier in the day and is a little more firm.

After picking off the foam around the top of the part, I slowly sand away at the bottom edge, making enough room for the fabric to wrap all the way around,

Next I start to cut away at the speedometer area, picking out large chunks.

Then going back for more detailed work and cleaning it up a bit.

Finally started to look respectable.

Same treatment for the inside.  I have to remove this inside area because the fabric needs to wrap all the way around the edges of the long skinny parts.

All done.  It’s not pretty, but it works perfectly.

After placing the mold, along with the piece wrapped in fiber in the bag, the edges are carefully sealed.

After the pump is turned on, all of the air is removed and the fabric is perfectly contoured to all the complexities of the part.

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