Thursday, January 3, 2013

Laying down carbon fiber (faux)

When I was in college, there were several student projects within the college of engineering. Civil engineering have their concrete canoe (believe it or not, they build a canoe using concrete and competed with other concrete canoes), there's the newly started solar car project which was in the very infant stage of organizing team and raising funds, and the one interested me most was the human powered vehicle project. It's basically a recumbent bicycle made of composite with a Kevlar outside fairing to reduce drag. The project gave me a chance to play with composite materials. We made molds out of sheet foam and lots of Bondo, then made a female tub using fiber glass, and then lay down layers of Kevlar with resin and vacuum bag it until the resin cured. We did all these on the roof of the mechanical engineering department. Carbon fiber and Kevlar were exotic materials back then, only used on supercars or advanced aerospace applications. They're more common nowadays, but it is still quite labor intensive to work with these composites and anything involving resins, messy.

Carbon fiber decals on the other hand, not messy, including the application of decal softener. Back to the model, got the carbon fiber decals on the front wing today. Unfortunately, got an email from the boss, I'd better work on what he needs before tomorrow morning.

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