Can you make carbon fibre stuff in your garage?

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  • Can you make carbon fibre stuff in your garage?
  • Premier Icon wwaswas
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    cynic-al to the thread! cynic-al to the thread!

    Tom B
    Member

    I believe that a spoon is the stwers preferred material….

    crikey
    Member

    Yes.

    I busted up a derailleur hanger and had one made. The guy who made it refused any payment, but suggested I buy him a book. When I took the book round, he showed me his latest creation, which was a carbon fibre telescope and tripod.

    Eminently doable, especially for you because you’ve got the interest and the think-about-stuff-a-lot characteristic!

    Premier Icon aracer
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    Of course you can – people have built carbon frames in their garage.

    Though I’d take issue with tri-bar arm rests being non-structural – you fancy one breaking when going over a bump at speed?

    Yes. It’s just like glass fibre, but instead of glass fibres, carbon fibres are used. The principle is identical. A guy at work races F1 hovercraft and makes his own CF tubs/chassis in his garage.

    Premier Icon footflaps
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    See if you can find a copy of One Man’s Dream – The Britten Bike Story (video), 1995, Ruffell Films. He build the bike in his shed inc DIY carbon fibre parts. Went on to win loads of races.

    This guy does, down the road from me in benaocaz http://www.carbonbikes.es/index.php?route=product/category&path=59

    Pretty nice stuff too.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    I didn’t mean the arm rests were non structural, I meant that what I have in mind is non structural but could do with being as stiff and thin as the arm rests, which are carbon.

    I saw a bloke on the telly laying cloth then spreading on a resin, and pressing it in a form. Might need baking though.. Hmm…

    Premier Icon richmars
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    Yes, I’ve made three frames (road, hardtail and full suspension) and assorted bits in my garage.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    What kit did you need?

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    I have an idea for a bike component. Non structural non critical mass f course, just needs a bit of stiffness rather than being flappy breaky plastic. Like the elbow rests on my clip on tri bars.

    stumpy01
    Member

    Yeah, Richmars up there ^^ is a top garage tinkerer and does carbon fibre stuff….it can be done!

    Premier Icon richmars
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    What kit did you need?

    Google.

    It’s a lot easier now. You can buy stuff on line, and lots of info.
    I started by buying carbon tubes and lugs and sticking it all together (not as easy as it sounds), then made my own tubes (carbon cloth wrapped around a foam core, and stuck it all together. Ideally you need someway of making (or buying) the metal bits, like drop outs and bottom brackets (I had access to a lathe and mill).
    A vacuum pump helps, but you don’t need an oven.

    It’s fairly easy to make parts, less easy to make them look ‘nice’ unless you make moulds (which you can with MDF).

    Sancho
    Member

    my friend doesnt buy bikes anymore he just makes what he wants in carbon from hardtails to dowhill frames

    bikebouy
    Member

    You need a vacuum, borrow that thing sitting unused in the corner under the stairs πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    I only need one formed sheet. I could do it on a vacuum former but it would be a bit crappy. Tempted to make a prototype to send to someone to have made. But that would cost money πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon richmars
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    Pictures of a rear mud guard I made a few years ago:
    clicky

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Nice work. You made the form by hand or is it cast from something else?

    Premier Icon richmars
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    I used a plastic mud guard as a pattern, made a carbon mould, then used that to make the part. Pretty sure I used vacuum, but don’t have any photos.

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
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    A number of successful international (or more correctly 10 sqm) canoes have been built in garages I believe. If you can home make a sailing boat hull then non structural stuff should easily be a goer for bike bits.

    people build planes in sheds….not models

    sharkbait
    Member

    Off on a course next month to learn about making CF parts using resin infusion – most cool. Thinking of setting up a small sideline making parts. Bikebouy, the hoover is not going to do the job I’m afraid πŸ™

    Premier Icon aracer
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    You need a vacuum

    No you don’t – certainly not for non-structural stuff. I’ve done a fair amount of composite stuff (mostly with kevlar as I got a job lot from an ex-gfs dad who worked in testing bullet proof vests and stuff like that). Have never used a vacuum – simply loaded up with weight normally, though sometimes not even that. You’ll just end up with a bit more resin and so a bit lower strength/weight. Though you can also do tricks like wrapping in tape with pinholes to squeeze resin out.

    Don’t think I’ve got any pics, but I guess the best thing I’ve made is a sandwich construction kevlar map-board with foam in the middle. As mentioned above I just loaded that up with weight (wrapped the board in carrier bags), and it is structurally strong enough to use as an improvised tri-bar.

    Premier Icon cookeaa
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    I have a couple of sq m of 300g carbon fabric, some fibreglass mat and an out of date west epoxy pack sat in my garage waiting for me to pull my finger out and try one of the numerous projects on my to do list…

    It can all be done just takes time, research and some planning.

    cynic-al
    Member

    Aracer – taken it over any bumps? πŸ˜›

    As above it’s not difficult, forming in balsa is easy and light.

    For a mudguard etc I’d use a sandpit, plastic bag, a male form and lots of weight.

    geetee1972
    Member

    Have a look at Swarf Cycles. Adrian built the bikes you will see there pretty much in his shed including a full carbon swing arm.

    irelanst
    Member

    I did a fair bit a long time ago, mainly in glass but some carbon for model gliders. Most of the stuff was cloth over foam core with UD stiffeners which was then bagged and I used an old compressor from a fridge for the vacuum and a hotbox made from plywood and a fan heater to speed up the cure. I could get fairly accurate and repeatable results on the profile.

    I did make some parts using female molds and bladders but unless you plan on making a lot then it’s a fair bit of effort and soul destroying if you don’t get the release prep right.

    There is loads of information on model aircraft sites. Oh and microbaloons are one of the coolest things you will ever use.

    Macavity
    Member

    “Can you make carbon fibre stuff in your garage?”

    No.
    Its so full of junk I can’t even get in through the garage door.

    bikebouy
    Member

    I’ve built foils for dinghies (foiling moths and fins for windsurf boards), I needed a vacuum, rather a really good vacuum pump which I borrowed from a boat builder…
    Carbon Weave,
    Medium
    Mould
    Pre Formed Shape
    Strong (1mm thick) vacuum bags
    Vacuum pump

    Suck, suck, suck, in room temp harden overnight.

    πŸ˜‰

    sharkbait
    Member

    You need a vacuum

    No you don’t

    Unless your happy producing pieces that are [comparatively] heavier and not as strong as they could be.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    I was thinking of making a mockup out of something bendy, and casting a male and female mould. Then I could squash the carbon between them both.

    meehaja
    Member

    Ok, so i know there were early issues with glue failures etc, but if its good enough for indy fab’s… how hard would it be to build a steel lugged, carbon fibre frame? Presumably its more complex than pushing the tubes in, adding a load of resin and keeping it somewhere hot?

    bikebouy
    Member

    Without getting too complex πŸ˜† from what I learned, it’s all about what bonding agent you use and the weave.
    When doing the foils (pattern off an original (male/female sandwiched together) i had to soak four sheets of weave then lay it ontop of the releasing agent (white silicone stuff) then pour the bonding agent and nead through the weave, this was the hard bit as it’s bloody messy and you need gloves 😳 I used a squdge made out of wooden mallet. After pressing 4 male and 4 female weaves I sandwiched them together and clamped them hard, open both ends and two breathers in the mould, covered the whole “mould” with 1mm thick sealed plastci bag and then formed a nozzel for the vacuum which I placed midway along the mould. Enter a lot of suck at room temp and left to cure overnight. Came back the next morning to find some creep out of the mould (expected) and then opened out the mould and trimmed the foils down. Quite remarkably (for me) they came out straight and true with little trimming to be done. I then built up the top edge of the foil with move weave to fashion a union/junction for the tiller ext and did a similar thing to above except it was more freeformed and harder to vacuum well enough.

    The fins were peasy compared to the foils so not really worth bothering to talk about.

    I have bonded masts together and spar/shroud attachments/junctions without vacumming but to get the best bond vacuuming sucks out all the trapped air and oxygen nonsence that contributes to mass failure πŸ˜†

    irelanst
    Member

    I was thinking of making a mockup out of something bendy, and casting a male and female mould. Then I could squash the carbon between them both.

    Your part might be suitable for that method but generally speaking I wouldn’t do that. I did try that method once and the results weren’t very good, I ended up with voids and lots of slippage between the layers of cloth (although that would depend on geometry). IMO, female mold with bladder, or male mold with vacuum bag is a much better method.

    Premier Icon aracer
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    Unless your happy producing pieces that are [comparatively] heavier and not as strong as they could be.

    I said that. For most home builders, and particularly for non-structural stuff like molgrips wants it’s not that big an issue. Most of the air can be got out by good use of a roller/brush and use of weight/compression.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    Hmm.. the vacuum method requires me to source a pump of some kind.. which is a whole pre-project.

    spazzolino
    Member

    Hey molegrips,

    The process and the equipment you need will depend on a number of things:

    Size of part, surface finish requirements, performance requirements, your budget, how much time you have and also how many general tools you have in your possession.

    I can let give you step by step run down of what you need for the project and how to do it of you are serious.

    You can pm me if you are interested.

    clubber
    Member

    Hmm.. the vacuum method requires me to source a pump of some kind.. which is a whole pre-project.

    I know people who just use cheap vacuum cleaners off gumtree – they don’t really like being left sucking on nothing for long periods and tend to die eventually. ( πŸ˜‰ )

    sugdenr
    Member

    I bought the vacuum pump but havent found time to use it, I need some kind of vacuum switch you can make them from an old vacuum advance apparently

    sugdenr
    Member

    Isn’t the male/female mould system ideal for RTM?

    Premier Icon richmars
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    The male/female method will be hard to do at home, as the two moulds need to match up, with exactly the correct gap between, then you need the correct thickness of carbon, too much and where does it go, too little and it’s not in connect. One mould is much easier, and works if you only need one good surface (the face that is in contact with the mould), the other face is ‘uncontrolled’ but is often inside, so doesn’t matter what it looks like.

    Someone mentioned carbon tubes into steel lugs, fine, but isolate the carbon from the steel (galvanic corrosion).

    Premier Icon aracer
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    Hmm.. the vacuum method requires me to source a pump of some kind.. which is a whole pre-project.

    Hence why I’m explaining that you almost certainly don’t need one. My understanding is that the vast majority of kayaks are made without a vacuum pump (in general you pay a significant premium to get a vac bagged one).

    How big is what you’re thinking of (or you could always tell us exactly what it is unless there’s IP involved – send me a message on FB and I’ll fill in a NDA for you if necessary!)? Various options for molds, if it’s small then you can use plasticene, or for something a bit bigger making a single composite mould using glass on your mockup for the good side (which is how kayaks are usually made). Then lay up on your mould (don’t forget mould release, though IME if you’re not that bothered about finish supermarket carrier bags work) and use sand and a weight to compress the other side.

    Premier Icon molgrips
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    They would match up correctly, since I’d cast them both at the same time with a form.

    However.. it woudn’t work easily, because I’d need to layer the fibres over the top of each other in different places because it’s quite a 3d shape.

    The inside of the curve is important. So what I might do is get a foam block, scoop the inside of it out andcheck fit onto the bike, thereby making a female mould. Then I can cast a male form and proceed layering the carbon onto that. I reckon I can get away without vacuum, at least for aprototype.

    I’d tell you what I’m planning but it’s such a simple and obvious thing that I’m amazed no-one’s thought of it yet (or produced it) and someone might just start rattling them off and remove any chance I have of making even a small bit of cash from it.

    If someone’s already a dab hand at the fabrication I might cut them in to save hassle πŸ™‚

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