Technician Interview: Carbon Fiber

Many FGCI customers and subscribers have asked questions that were related to a better understanding of Carbon Fiber. So, we sat down with our technician, Pat Hery, and informed him of the common questions, and we must say, the responses were quite interesting!

 

 

 

Interview:13227156_1285749204772979_8868784239727017846_n

What are the common uses for carbon fiber?

There are many common uses for carbon fiber such as golf clubs, bicycles, aircrafts, automotive, iPhone cases. But, we usually see carbon fiber used as aesthetics, like car parts, hoods and speaker boxes. Unless used for race car or boats were speed is the demand.

What are the advantages of using carbon fiber?

The advantage is, it has the same thickness compared to steel. And as far as stiffness and strength the comparison will require more fiberglass to get the same yield. 

What is the prep method before the application process?

The method depends solely on the mold or if they are overlaying a part. Using epoxy or Vinylester can also be a determining factor. Now let’s say they decide to use epoxy, then, they need to determine if the epoxy is high temp due to the fact that most epoxies will soften up in Florida or in an area that is hot. If they are overlaying a part or making a one-off, they will laminate the carbon, put an extra coat of resin, sand with a 320 and apply an automotive clear.

What are the different ways to apply?

The different methods to apply carbon fiber depend on the surface area one is trying to go over. Carbon Fiber doesn’t like anything but a general curve. When it comes to the application, most will spray super 3M 77 so once the carbon is put in place, it won’t move when doing a thorough wet out of the carbon.

Does the thickness of the carbon matter?

When it comes to thickness of the carbon, this will be important as it can dictate the maximum strength you are looking for. Lastly, the thickness of the layup will depend on what you are trying to achieve.

6 Steps to Proper Surface Prep for Gelcoat

gelcoat-sandingApplying gelcoat is a process that requires a bit of skill, a lot of know-how and the right tools and materials. So, before you spray or brush the gelcoat on, you want to make sure you prepare the surface you are recoating for the best results.

Step #1 – You will want to start off by cleaning the surface with Lacquer Thinner to remove any wax and oil. The next part of step 1 is sanding the surface with 80 grit sandpaper, like our OEM brand. This will knock all the oxidation and wax from the surface. You do not have to sand it down to raw fiberglass. Make sure you use proper safety equipment, like dust masks.

If you DO have raw fiberglass spots, you are just going to lightly hit those spots to clean them up. These areas will usually require a second coat of gelcoat.

Step #2 – Clean with Acetone or MEK Solvent and let the solvent dry. As soon as it’s dry, you can get started, but don’t wait more than 20 minutes before starting your process.

Step #3 – If you are doing multiple coats of gelcoat, the first coat should not have wax or Sanding Aid in it. If you purchased Interior Gelcoat, it already has wax in it, meaning, if you are applying multiple coats, you will want to wait until the gelcoat is cured and wipe it down with Lacquer Thinner and then sand the gelcoat before applying your second coat.

Step #4 – Mix in your catalyst and apply your gelcoat by either spraying it or brushing it, using our brushable gelcoat. After applying, let it sit for 12 hours before doing anything to it.

Step #5 – Lightly sand the gelcoat with 1200 grit sandpaper or use a compound that is equal to 1200 grit, like our Aqua Buff 2000. Larger blemishes will require a lower grit sandpaper to knock down any high spots.

Step #6 – Apply a wax to give it that factory shine. We sell Farecla, Presta, Flitz and 3M brands that work great.

Product Spotlight: OEM Sandpaper

oem-sandpaperA product that we don’t often talk about here at FGCI is sandpaper. Sandpaper is used with nearly every job because you need to treat the surface before applying most resins, gelcoats and paints. You also use sandpaper to get any old resin, gelcoat and paint off of your surface before applying a new coating. So, with all this use, you need a product that is inexpensive, but most of all; reliable.

With that, we present OEM Sandpaper by FGCI. FGCI OEM Sandpaper is perfect for almost any job. It uses a Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) backing and is offered in 5” and 6” sizes. They are sold in rolls of 100 and run anywhere from $14.75 a roll to $27.80 a roll. At that price, it’s convenient and easy to buy the many grits we offer for any job you have.

The best part about OEM sandpaper is the longevity. You know you have been there when you replace a sheet and start sanding only to see the brand new paper completely useless moments later. With OEM sandpaper, you will get a fantastic life from your paper at a minimal cost.

OEM Sandpaper is available in our stores in St. Petersburg and Ft. Lauderdale; online at www.FGCI.com and now on Amazon, too!