A picture is worth a 1000 words and a video is worth a 1000 pictures so
watch the full video tutorial or go down to see the written description step by step ;)
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Step 1: Introduction
information skinning with carbonfiber
The most important thing you need to know is that skinning parts is not a quick way of making “carbon fiber looking” parts, by “carbon fiber looking” parts I mean that the parts are made with real carbon fiber, but you will use the carbon fiber just for the look of it. Of course the carbon fiber will add some stiffness to the part as well, but it will make the original part heavier (you are adding material).
Another way of making parts is with moulds, you can find some videos on my YouTube-channel HERE or check some videos on my instructables profile I’ve uploaded earlier. Those parts will result in strong AND light parts.
The process is quite similar to finishing parts with bondo before clear coating, you add multiple layers of resin on top of the carbonfiber and sand in between the layers of epoxy. That way you’ll create a mirror shine part. It’s not a difficult process but I’ll take you some time and elbow grease. The more time you put in your project the better the results you’ll get
The images used in this instructable are screenshots and additional pictures from the video-tutorial that you can find on YouTube. I’ve decided to do a written tutorial as well to give more written information when needed.
PS: English is not my mother language (I’m Dutch speaking, Belgium), so forgive me if I make some mistakes in my vocabulary or grammar ;)
Step 2: This Is What You Will Need
I’ve added a link where you can buy the materials, if needed. Of course there are other manufacturers of products as good or maybe even better, but I thought it was an easy way of ordering when interested. If you want to follow this tutorial to the letter I would advise you to buy the same materials, You can then use the same mixing ratios, curing times and so on.
1. A part you want to skin with carbon fiber
My choice was an Ironman and 2 spiderman masks, I bought locally in a store. This can be everything you want, but keep in mind that tight corners and shapes can make it more difficult, If you are a beginner, start with an easy part and if everything goes well gradually take more complex parts.
2. Carbon fiber fabric to cover the part (you can use some other looks of fabric like hybrid Kevlar/Carbon fiber Fiberglass, coloured weaves). The choice is yours, but look for a twill weave (see image) A twill weave is easier to lay down in 3 dimensional shapes than a plain weave (see image)
Carbon Fibre 2/2 Twill 3k 199g 1m Wide
Carbon Fibre 2/2 Twill 12k 450g 1m Wide
Carbon Fibre 2/2 Twill 3k 210g 1m Wide Red (SIMILAR TO WHAT I'VE USED) http://easycomposites.co.uk/products/carbon-fibre...
3. Laminating epoxy resin
4. Laminating basecoat (black basecoat) optional
5. pigment (For black basecoat) Optional
6. Disposable brushes
7. Acetone (to clean your brushes)
8. Some Cups
9. A scale
10. mixing sticks
11. sanding paper (80,150,220,400,800,1000,1500,2000)
12. plastic primer spraycan
13. Clearcoat spraycan
14. Disposable gloves (buy it, it’s for your health)
15. Chemical respirator mask (buy it, it’s for your health)
16. Vacuum pump (optional, but it will give you better results for complex parts)
17. vacuum bag (optional when using a vacuum pump)
18. Bagging connector (optional when using a vacuum pump)
19. Vacuum hose (optional when using a vacuum pump)
20 Sealant Gum Tape (optional when using a vacuum pump)
Step 3: Step 1: Pick a Part You Want to Skin
So you’ve picked a topic, I chose for an Iron man Mask and Spiderman mask. This can be everything you want.
Here you can find a before and after shot to show you where we are heading to.
Step 4: Step 2: Sanding the Part
First you will need to sand your part, that way the basecoat (optional) or first layer of epoxy can have a grip on the part. I took a sanding paper grid 80 to sand the part with. Giving me a result like Iron man just got back from an epic battle and needs to get fixed ;) don’t be afraid to scratch your surface. The scratches are needed to provide a good grip for the resin.
Step 5: Step 3: Clean Your Part
Clean your part with soapy water and then clean it with a grease remover and make sure your surface is dust free and entirely dry.
Step 6: Step 4: Apply Basecoat
prepare your workspace and work in an organized way you have everything in reach. For this step you’ll need a disposable brush (throw it away at the end), mixing stick, cup, scale, laminating epoxy or even better laminating basecoat, your chemical respirator mask and disposable gloves.
If you are using the laminating basecoat mixing ratios are 1 on 2. You’ll mix a batch to add a first layer on the part. This will create a first tacky layer where you will be able to drape your carbon fiber cloth on. In this case I’ve mixed (30 grams of A + 15 grams of B) = 45 grams for the 3 masks. You can also do this first layer with regular laminating epoxy. In that case the mixing ratio’s of the laminating epoxy I am using are: 100:30 this would be like something of (30 grams of A + 10 grams of B) = 40 grams.
If you have parts with strong colours like the red on the Spiderman mask, a black basecoat is preferable to avoid a see through of red (through the carbon fiber after the cloth has been added)
Keep in mind: Those mixing ratios have to be pretty accurate! Adding more or less of part A or B won’t make the epoxy cure quicker or slower!
Also keep in mind that once you mix A and B it will cure, so don’t even think about mixing a bigger cup and think to do a part today and then add a second coat a few hours later or days later!
Mixing ratios will be different from manufacturer to manufacturer. Check the technical data sheet if you are using another epoxy resin!
Use your scale to measure the right amount of resin (A+B) then mix thoroughly, let it sit for a bit (+/- 10 minutes to let some gasses evaporate and let the trapped air rise) Then use your brush to “paint” your part with a thin coat of basecoat resin (or laminating resin) Let your part float on a cup or other object to let the excess resin drip of.
Then let it cure till a tacky feel. It’s kind of hard to tell the exact time. This will depend of the temperature in your workspace. For me, it took around 3 hours at 25°C. Don’t touch your part to see if it’s getting tacky but tap your finger with a glove on the drips that dripped of the part. With tacky I mean your finger won’t leave a mark, but will make a sticky sound.
Step 7: Step 5: Add the Carbonfiber
take a piece of carbon fiber cloth you prepared in advance. Make sure it is a bit oversized to make sure you will be able to cover the entire part in one piece. A good hint is to tape of the cutting lines first with a “masking tape” (don’t know if it’s the correct word but I think you will get it ;) ) then cut your square on the tape. That way your weave won’t get distorted while handling it.
The basecoat is tacky, so the moment has come to drape the cloth on top of the part. Work your way out from the middle by carefully pushing the fabric against the part. Keep in mind: there is no room for error here, once it is stuck against the part, you won’t be able to pull it back up or it will distort your weave. You will see that the twill weave will enable you to create those 3D shapes! If needed you can create some cuts in the tape you have to be able to handle it a bit better in those more difficult shaped parts.
Step 8: Step 6: Optional Vacuumbag
If you have access to a vacuum pump, put your part in a vacuum bag and pull a full vacuum to compress the cloth in those hard edges. And let it cure.
If you don’t have a vacuum pump or an easier part without though edges, you can also do it without a pump, once you add the resin you will see the cloth is getting a bit “softer”. You will be able to push the cloth in those tougher edges with your brush.
Step 9: Step 7: Add Epoxy Resin
Let the basecoat fully cure with the dry cloth on it. I’ve waited overnight to make sure it was all set. Now it’s time to add the first layer of laminating epoxy. You will need the same materials as in step 4. Mix a batch of laminating resin and wet out the fibers by “painting” the resin over the dry cloth and make sure everything get saturated well. You will find out the carbon fiber cloth will absorb some resin, so you will need to go over it a few time. Then let it cure.
Step 10: Step 8: Second Coat of Epoxy
once the resin has set after a few hours (5 hours with the laminating resin I’ve used) you can already add a second layer directly on top of the first one to create some thickness that will allow you to do some sanding without directly going through the fibers. Let the part fully cure 24 hours.
Step 11: Step 9: First Sanding
When the epoxy cured overnight and is fully cured, take a sandingblock with some 80grid sanding paper to smoothen the surface. You will notice some high spots and low spots. Don’t worry about them too much and don’t try to smoothen it all out at this step or you might sand through the fiber cloth and create a bad looking weave when sanding through the carbonfiber.
I personally like to wet sand, make sure your epoxy is fully cured then! If not, you will might get some troubles with your epoxy getting a milky shine due to moist getting into your epoxy resin.
Once you are happy with the sanding clean everything with soapy water and grease remover.
Let everything dry and make sure it is fully dry before the next step
Step 12: Step 10 the Boring Steps (sand and Coat)
now it will get kind of boring. You will need to repeat steps 8 and 9.
Add resin, sand, add resin, sand (Like creating a perfectly smooth surface with bondo) By working that way you will find out that your high spots and low spots will disappear.
It is your personal choice to define how much time you want to put in this process. If you are aiming for perfect results you will need to do this around 4 till 5 times to get perfect results, but everything will depend on the part you have chosen and how easily you can sand your part in between the coats.
Step 13: Step 11: Cut-outs
After the last time you’ve sanded and you are happy with surface finish you can use a drill or Dremel tool with rotary disk to cut off the excess fibers hanging out or drill some finishing holes for fittings and so on. For the more delicate parts you can use a sanding block with some sanding paper to smoothen out edges.
Step 14: Step 12: Clear Coat
Last Cleaning and dust removal before clear coat. The parts were sanded up till a P800 grid before applying the plastic primer and last layer of clear coat. Once the clear coat is applied you can sand the clear starting with a wet P1000 till P2500 and final buffing to create a high gloss mirror shine without any orange peel!
Do you need to clear coat?! I would strongly advise you to, Epoxy resin isn’t UV stable, the clearcoat will prevent your epoxy to yellow.
I could write an entire Instructable on clear coating parts and so on, but I’m sure other already have and are much better at it than me!
You can decorate or add any elements at personal taste, I’ve added some grids, painted in gold in the Iron man mask.
Step 15: Final Word
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I hope all the steps doesn’t scare you off too much. It is a lot of work but the results are sooo rewarding!
If you liked this tutorial please favorite and have a look at my YouTube Channel, were you can find a lot more video-tutorials regarding carbonfiber and making carbonfiber parts! Also check my facebookpage if you want to find out more about the work I do with carbonfiber
Runner Up in the
Fourth Prize in the
Superheroes and Supervillains Contest
Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest