Making your own forged carbon-fiber pieces at home is actually possible
When it comes to things that are both wicked cool and wicked fast, carbon fiber is always at the top of the list. In recent years, forged carbon-fiber has come into vogue but was essentially limited to the highest echelon of performance builds. Now it’s become possible for the rest of us to create our own parts in forged carbon—but it’s not easy. Could it be worth for that over-the-top custom touch on your project, though?
Carbon fiber is best known for two things: its lightweight strength and that signature gray weave. Forged carbon fiber retains the strength and light weight but eschews the weave in favor of a blend of chaff-like carbon-fiber bits (called “tow”). These are randomly oriented in the mold and coated in resin before pressure is applied to force the piece into shape. Once the resin is cured, the mold can be split and the piece prepped for fitment. Easy Composites Inc. recently posted a video breaking down the process, and it has us thinking about all the fun parts we could create.
Of course the pro makes it look mighty easy. The hardest part of the process looks to be the mold. For this video, Easy Composites is essentially duplicating parts made from other materials, and surely that is the easiest way to do it. The resin to create an accurate mold will not come cheap, but, as he points out, it would be reusable many times over for a home user. The little lever he creates is done in a 3D-printed mold and with the rise of easy-to-use home 3D printing setups, that might be the easiest route.
Once you have a mold, the process is as simple as coating it with resin, laying in the carbon tow evenly, and then carefully clamping the mold together. Naturally, there are a bunch of detailed, “best practice” insights, but the one that stuck out to me was the slow nature of drawing the mold together with clamping pressure. The molds fit together tightly enough that clamping needs to be slow or the molds will hydraulically lock. Moving slowly allows the thinner resin to push out.
Once you wait a day, and return to the garage like a child on Christmas morning, it’s time to pop the parts from the molds. With a little care, everything just needs a little cleanup with a razor blade and sandpaper before it’s ready to be pressed (that was intentional) into use. The kit Easy Composites uses is advertised at just $65; for a few small batch projects of custom piece, it seems like a good deal. A perfect winter project to learn a new process and get something cool to show from it.