Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How to laminate carbon fiber to plywood

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In our Belite ultralight aircraft, we occasionally make and use a carbon fiber / plywood laminate.  This makes a very nice looking and strong panel, yet is very thin.   It is capable of holding a lot of load when suspended across a frame, for instance, a seat bottom.  (Double sided applications would probably be used with other cores than thin plywood.)

I recently made some of this magic thin carbon fiber / plywood.  I documented the production steps so you can see how we do it.

In order to do this, we'll use some thick beveled glass, tacky tape, a vacuum pump and some vacuum tubing, bagging film, peel & ply film, fluffy cloth padding, epoxy, and of course, -- carbon fiber and plywood.

Let's start with a nice sheet of beveled plate glass.  We've cleaned it thoroughly (I mean it, thoroughly!!!) and have lined the edges with tacky tape.  It has been waxed, then the glass has been sprayed with film release, and I've run some plastic vacuum tubing along one edge, secured with tacky tape as well.

Warning:  carbon fiber and epoxy and glass can be nasty stuff -- always use breathing protection, along with protective gloves.  Use these instructions, as always, at your own risk.

Let's get going...

Plate glass, cleaned and prepared for use.