Carbon help

Hey all, how do I go about working with carbon tubes and plates? As for the tubes, I’m wanting to cut the length down as well as drill a hole through it for spreaders. As far as plates, I’d like to basically machine my own servo trays and other parts. Can anyone offer any help and/or advice? Thanks in advance.


Don’t forget to have fun!!!

Carbon tubes- wrap with masking tape wher you are going to cut, do it slowly with a new hacksaw blade to stop the ends splitting (I assume your using pultruded tubes) If the end is starting to split touch the effected end with epoxy and tape up tightly till set.

Plates can easily be shaped with an angle grinder/dimond cutter for corse shaping, and with files for fine work. Never machined carbon plate but I guess its possible if you go slowly. Normal metal working drill bits work, again take it slow to try to limit bits chipping out of the laminate. Any laminate with kevlar (the yellow stuff!) in it will end up with a fuzzy edge which is pretty hard to get rid of, so avoid using kevlar when you lay up some plate.

Luff 'em & leave 'em.

Travis -

I have found a Dremel Tool to be most useful. For cutting, I use either a fiberglass or diamond coated circular disc. The narrow circular cutting wheel is spinning so very fast is doesn’t (seem) to want to split tube ends during cut-off.

I have only tried a plate once and success was so-so. I used the Dremel with a standard steel mini-router bit, and it worked - but only OK. I have not tried it yet, but think that a Roto-Zip type tool (big Dremel-type tool) with high speed revolutions and up-cutting spiral bits might be just the “ticket” for boring four corner holes and then cutting out a space for a servo - especially if fitted like a router - or using a template to keep lines straight.

I absolutly agree with Dick on this. I used saws, knifes and other tools, but the only one that really worked was the Dremel Diamond cutter wheel. The normal cutter wheels tend to easily break when cutting thicker materials, saws loose there teeth after a few cuts through carbon. The Dremel wheel lost all the diamonddust on it already, but it still cuts so amazingly clean.

Call me an over-reactor, but it seems to me that any time someone asks a question about cutting or machining carbon fiber I would assume that they might not know the health hazards. My understanding is that the tiny fibers of carbon fiber which are produced by machining, sanding, whatever are pretty terrible when they get in your lungs - along the same lines as asbestos I believe.


Scott -

no over-reaction on your part - but probably a major assumption on my part that anyone using any kind of highspeed cutting/sanding/drilling device would normally have and I assume they would use standard personal protective gear - which would include, but not be limited to dust masks, visors, safety glasses, protective clothing/gloves, and painting masks for spray painting. Also adequate shop ventilation, and a vacuum system of sorts to pick up shavings, dust, and other debris caused by working with tools - whether hand powered or electrical/hydraulic. [:-graduate]

I clearly understand your points and agree whole-heartedly, but on a logical note - how far do we go when answering questions or explaining a process? I usually include issues of needing a DRY mold when pouring keel lead to prevent steam “blow-back” and if possible urge the person to use polyester resin and lead shot - but even that has safety concerns with lead being poisonous and the Methyl Ethyl Keytone (MEK) used to harden polyester resin is just as “nasty” as epoxy resins, hardeners and sanding dust.

Maybe - we could add as a normal part of our posts for new topics - a “blurb” about using adequate safety precautions. From a personal point of view, “…those that will - probably have, and those that haven’t - probably won’t.”

A good idea Scott - and something for all to strive for. What good is building the coolest or fastest boat on the planet, when one gets sick during or from the process.

Let’s make 2005 a <u><font size=“3”>Safe</font id=“size3”></u> year as well as a fast one ! [:-party]

For the amout of carbon work a typical model maker does I cant see the health hazard being that great. Common sense rules. Do it outside wearing a dust mask if your really worried.

Luff 'em & leave 'em.

When drilling through fibreglass of any sort with standard drills begin drilling backwards until you “break” through the surface and get into the laminate this will eliminate chipping.