To briefly introduce myself, my name is Matthieu Libeert from Belgium. Since a few years I have a YouTube-channel on which I share all my carbon fiber adventures. In case you want to check it out here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/user/matthieutje65
So first question you might ask: Why did you made that Carbon Fiber Youtube Button? Well I recently got 10 000 subscribers and wanted to thank everyone who subscribed to my YouTube channel with a new 2-Part video on how I made this for myself!
To give you a little background: YouTube gives YouTube Play Button awards for 1) +100 000 subscribers (silver button), +1 000 000 subscribers (gold button) and a diamond button for +10 000 000 subscribers.
I know this instructable asks for a lot of materials you probably don’t have, but I still decided to share you my process and maybe inspire you to make something similar in a more basic way.
The techniques used in this instructable are quit similar to the ones used in aeronautic industry and high end sport gear like bicycles, rally cars, exotic cars,…
PS: As I wrote above I’m from Belgium; I speak fluently Dutch and French. I’m doing my best with English, so forgive me for my writing and speaking in the videos English is not my native language!
Step 1: 2 Video's
A picture is worth a 1000 words a video is worth a 1000 pictures;
The following 2 videos should be enough to explain you everything. Why did I decide to add a written tutorial as well? I’m just able to clarify a bit more in detail! So If you don’t like reading, just watch the video’s ;)
I've also did my best to include a lot of pictures to make everything clear. Some are screenshots from the video and other pictures are pictures I took while working on this project.
Step 2: What's in This Instructable?
CNC milled piece - mouldmaking - Resin infusion - Demoulding - Framed piece.
Step 3: What Do We Need?!
NOTE: In no way I try to only promote the products from Easy Composites (www.easycomposites.co.uk) There are many other companies selling similar products. It's just that I always use their products and I am quit familiar with them. I just added a link to the product because I know from my video's a lot of people are just looking for the same materials.
- Computer (to run the Easel software)
- X-carve OR your hands to shape an object
- Wood or any material you want to carve in (a harder type of wood is better)
other suggestion: http://www.easycomposites.co.uk/#!/patterns-moulds...
- Bondo (any automotive 2-part bondo should do the trick)
- Epoxy or any coating resin
- Translucent pigment (optional)
- cups/sandpaper/stirring sticks/ a scale
You could find all of this pretty easily I think
- safety equipement; mask/dustsuit/nitril gloves
Find Locally in DIY store
- Degreaser or Easy Lease Mouldcleaner
- Sandpaper (320/600)
Find in your local DIY store
- Polishing compound
- A wooden baseplate or plastic baseplate
- Easy Lease Release agent
- Uni-mould tooling gelcoat
- Uni-mould coupling coat
- Uni-mould tooling resin
- MEKP hardener
Find locally in a carshop or something like that
- disposable brushes
- Fiberglass 30g/m²
- Fiberglass 300g/m²
- Roller to remove trapped air
- 650g/m² carbonfiber
- FusionFX positioning spray
- IN2 infusion epoxy resin
- Resin clamps
- A frame to put the button in
find it online or make it yourself like I did ;)
- Some stickering
try your local print-shop
- A lot of patience ;)
probably the most important thing!
Step 4: Making the YouTube Button - Also Called "the Plug"
I did this using the X-carve. The X-carve is a machine created by inventables www.inventables.com
Or the X-carve specific website is https://www.inventables.com/technologies/x-carve
Inventables was kind enough to send me the full option 1000mm X 1000mm machine as sponsoring for the tutorials I make. It’s a great piece of equipement for makers like me, enabling me to go from computer designed pieces to a real piece I can hold in my hand. GREAT FOR PROTOTYPING!
This step is fully optional, I do understand that not everyone is able to buy or use such machine. Don’t let this be a motivation breaker to start with a project like this. You could easily shape the YouTube button or other pieces you like by hand as well! Another option is to use an existing piece you have, to make a mould from and then make a carbon fiber or fiberglass piece out of that mould!
You can always use the Easel software from the inventables website for free on www.easel.com if you want to mess around with the software!
Like I said in the video the machine (at this point) is only able to carve 2.5D meaning it will go down step by step and don’t move in the 3axises at the same time (only X-Y) and Z will go step by step.
Keep in mind: It is possible to send G-code to the X-carve making it possible to carve in 3-axis at the same time, just haven’t found the time to experiment with that so far!
That’s why I designed the piece in a pyramid shape where the machine is carving the rounded eaches step by step. I knew that after that I was going to be able to create that rounded edge by adding material, in my case I’ve used bondo and some elbow grease to create that rounded edge I had to get for that YouTube button.
Step 5: Creating the Rounded Edge and Seal
By having a pyramide structure I just filled in the edges with polyester bondo and then added a new layer to create the rounded edges. By doing so, I had the shape I’ve wanted. After that I coated it with some epoxy coating resin from Easycomposites (They don’t sell it anymore, but they have a better formulation now called XCR epoxy coating resin)
Why did I coat the entire wooden piece you might ask?! It’s to seal the wood and bondo. If you know something of composites you might also know that Polyester (bondo) will bond well to polyester. Epoxy won’t bond well to polyester (the mould coming on top of the part will be made of polyester) that’s why the epoxy coating is a good solution! It also seals the pores and scratches of the wood making it more stable to make a mould from.
I did 2 coats, this is simply a matter of how perfect you want things to get. You might get away with one coat (after the first coat I had some bubbles in the resin. Bubbles might occur due to the fact that the wood is maybe a bit “oiled” or moist trapped in the wood trying to get out) Once the wood was sealed with the first coat I’ve added a second coat after sanding it with a 320 grid and de-greased it. That way I had a surface that looked good enough for what I was trying to do. If you want to add a 3rd coat it’s totally up to you! You can add as many as you want ;) results will get better and better after each coat.
Here’s a quick tip: add some pigment in the resin you are using, that way you can see when you are sanding through the coats and when you need to stop sanding!
Step 6: polishing and Getting the Part Ready to Mould
This is probably the easiest step to explain. You sand till the finish you are pleased with. Always double the sanding grid and polish at the end till a gloss you are happy with. Keep in mind that the gloss on your part will have the same finish in the mould (every tinny scratch or defect will be visible in the mould) the good thing is that every pit/hole in the part will be a something sticking out of the mould surface, which can easily be sanded out of the mould once the mould is made!
After that it’s pretty straight forward, you mount the piece on a surface (preferably some type of plastic or sealed wood with plastic (we call it melamine here in Belgium) they have self releasing characteristics. If you are trying to make a piece that is not flat on the bottom, you will probably have to add flanges all around the piece (but that’s for another course in composites ;) let’s keep it simple here! I think it’s already enough of information for most of you here :D
Sealing the edges with plasticine all around the lower edge will avoid the gelcoat to go under the piece and cause the piece to get trapped in some way in the mould.
This is also something important I might have forgotten to tell: Make sure you are able to remove the mould from the part at the end! The mould will create a hard shell over the piece. This is a problem called “under-cut” If you have a piece with edges going inwards when you look at it from the top of the piece, this means your part will get stuck in the mould (unless you use a split mould, but let’s keep thing simple here ;) )
To keep it short, the trick is: When you look at your piece from the top, you should be able to see every part from your piece to make sure you have no undercut.
Step 7: Release Agent
This is the most simple and most important step! I’m using the Chemical release agent from Easy Composites which I’m extremely happy with! You add at least 5 coats with a clean piece of cloth each time and wait 15 minutes inbetween the coats. When you are done with your 5 coats you wait one hour and you can start with your mould.
Step 8: Making the Mould: Unimould Tooling Gelcoat – Coupling Coat – Tooling Resin
If you've never worked with mouldmaking materials, this is probably the most terrifying step! You’ve worked all your way up to here and now you have to coat it with a thick coat of ‘paint’! I call it paint because gelcoat, like it’s called, is some colored polyester or vinylester resin (in my case it's black, that has been thickened to avoid drip off and leaves a thick coat. This will also be the first visible coat you will see on your mould once demoulded. The good thing about a gelcoat is that it can easily be sanded and polished to a high gloss.
The gelcoat alone is not strong enough, it’s still brittle so you need to reinforce it with fiberglass and resin coming on top! I always compare it with concrete where they put a steel mesh in. The concrete alone wouldn’t be strong enough but with a steel matrix in between it keeps everything together. Well it’s pretty similar when building moulds!
The next layer is a coupling coat with a 30g/m² and 100g/m² chopped fiberglass mesh on top. This layer will create a good bond between the gelcoat and the heavy tooling resin coat coming on top.
Once the coupling coat is going into a tacky state, which means it still feels a bit sticky but rigid you can go to the next step which is the build up with the tooling resin.
The one from Easy Composites is very good with a low shrink. You have to apply all the coats at once (3 coats of a 300g/m² fiberglass) and make sure it’s well saturated. After that you can leave it to cure for 24h or preferably even more! You will notice an exothermal reaction (it’s the chemical reaction between the MEKP hardener and the resin) creating temperatures that can get around 60°C sometimes
Step 9: Getting the Mould Ready
Once the mould has fully cured, you can demould, trim of the edges and do some final sanding and polishing if you want to. I would advise you to go from a 600grid – 1200grid – 1500grid and polish to get decent result for a nice and glossy mould surface.
Same step as before, you add some release agent to make sure the part will remove well from the mould. Do it in 5 steps again!
Step 10: The Lay Up!
For the lay up here I’ve used 2 layers of a twill 650g/m² carbon fiber 12K. You can use any type of fibers you like here, fiberglass for example is cheaper if you want to test with fiberglass first. Everything is trimmed to "size" allowing some extra space for the tacky tape on the mould later on that will seal the vacuumbag.
Peelply: The peelply is used to remove all the “vacuum supply” at the end. It’s a nylon fabric that will peel of the carbonfiber with the infusion mesh at the end.
Infusion mesh: Will create a good resin flow and distribution
Tacky tape: used to seal the vacuumbag on the mould
Vacuumbag: special self releasing plastic that will hold everything under vacuum, creating great pressure on the fibers
Step 11: The Vacuum
Second most important step after the release agent! Make sure you have a full vacuum! No leaks, I’m serious not a single leak! WHY?! The resin cures after around 12 hours, If you have a leaking bag during the infusion it will add air through your part in the resin. Ever drank some coke with a straw with a hole in?! well it’s exactly the same :D You will get your resin with a lot of air added to it.
Second problem is that the bag will leak and not have any more pressure at the end while the resin needs to cure and the pump is shut down. That being the point of doing a vacuumbag it wouldn't be so good. You want to have all the fibers really tightly against each other and the mould to create a perfect part.
So that being said you pull full vacuum with a vacuumpump with a catchpot inbetween. You don’t want to have resin get sucked in you pump, that why you use a catch pot, all excess resin will go into the pot instead of traveling all the way through your pump.
Step 12: The Resin Infusion
You prepare some resin. Like I said before I’m using the EasyComposites IN2 Epoxy resin. You create the amount you desire and mix it well (mixing ratios here are 100:30) Say you want 260 grams in total = you make 200g of the A component and add 60g of the B component (keep in mind that other manufacturers use other ratios, so check the technical data sheet first of the product you are using) Both parts are runny but once you mix them a chemical bond will be created, resulting in it to cure and become hard. Like I said before the resin can be compared with the concrete and the fibers with the steel mesh.
You then let it degass a bit and then you are ready to open the infusion line and let all the resin go through your carbon fiber under vacuum. Once it’s done (went to the vacuumside) you can clamp of both sides and let the resin cure for 24h or preferably even more!
Step 13: The Demoulding
You remove the vacuumbag and all vacuumsupply, removing the peelply and infusionmesh might take some elbow grease and some sweat but should come off if everything was well prepared! Now you are left with only your carbonfiber and the resin in it!
Now you just trim the part, add some clearcoat and you are done!
Step 14: Frame and Stickers
This step is kind of up to you, like I said in the video, I’m not a woodworker, You can find some good YouTube channels about that like Diresta or ILikeTomakeStuff and many other! You might be able to find the frame online somewhere as well possibly! Try to find someone who can make some stickering if you want to, I’ve made them with a vinylcutter
Step 15: End Note
Hope you liked this instructable.
I know it’s probably not an instructable you say ‘daimn I Like this! let’s go to the workshop and make that!!!” due to all the materials and some machines needed, But I hope that in some way it might have inspired you or found this a great value of information!
If you want to follow my adventures, don’t forget to visit my YouTube page and subscribe! You can also find me on other social media as well!
If you have more questions or just want to say hi, give me a comment below!