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      03-07-2009, 04:03 AM   #1
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Are we getting what we paid for on carbon fiber products

Like the title says, are we really getting we paid for? Or is it just all marketing hype. Some companies claim dry carbon construction, but are it real? Most of companies are trying to confuse "infusion" as dry carbon fiber process, but in reality, its not! Infusion carbon fiber may look like real prepreg carbon fiber, but it is just a different type of wet-layed carbon fiber. The cost of manufacturing between real prepreg carbon fiber (like the OEM m3 roof) vs. none dry carbon fiber (such as infusion, wet-layed style) is significant.

So are we really getting what we paid for or fooled by marketing hypes? If you are paying over $500 for an infusion style (not a true dry carbon), then you are not spending your money wisely, regardless the make and brand and make. Same goes if you are paying more then $750 for a same processed front lip. Keep in mind these prices are retail, msrp! Reasonable amount of manufacture's and dealer profit are included in the price.

Here’s a simple brief description of Carbon fiber reinforced polymer process from Wikipedia

"The process in which most carbon fiber reinforced polymer is made varies, depending on the piece being created, the finish (outside gloss) required, and how many of this particular piece are going to be produced.

For simple pieces of which relatively few copies are needed, (1–2 per day) a vacuum bag can be used. A fiberglass, carbon fiber or aluminum mold is polished, waxed, and has a release agent applied before the fabric and resin are applied and the vacuum is pulled and set aside to allow the piece to cure (harden). There are two ways to apply the resin to the fabric in a vacuum mold. One is called a wet layup, where the two-part resin is mixed and applied before being laid in the mold and placed in the bag. The other is a resin induction system, where the dry fabric and mold are placed inside the bag while the vacuum pulls the resin through a small tube into the bag, then through a tube with holes or something similar to evenly spread the resin throughout the fabric. Wire loom works perfectly for a tube that requires holes inside the bag. Both of these methods of applying resin require hand work to spread the resin evenly for a glossy finish with very small pin-holes. A third method of constructing composite materials is known as a dry layup. Here, the carbon fiber material is already impregnated with resin (prepreg) and is applied to the mold in a similar fashion to adhesive film. The assembly is then placed in a vacuum to cure. The dry layup method has the least amount of resin waste and can achieve lighter constructions than wet layup. Also, because larger amounts of resin are more difficult to bleed out with wet layup methods, prepreg parts generally have fewer pinholes. Pinhole elimination with minimal resin amounts generally require the use of autoclave pressures to purge the residual gases out.

A quicker method uses a compression mold. This is a two-piece (male and female) mold usually made out of fiberglass or aluminum that is bolted together with the fabric and resin between the two. The benefit is that, once it is bolted together, it is relatively clean and can be moved around or stored without a vacuum until after curing. However, the molds require a lot of material to hold together through many uses under that pressure.

Many carbon fiber reinforced polymer parts are created with a single layer of carbon fabric, and filled with fiberglass. A chopper gun can be used to quickly create these types of parts. Once a thin shell is created out of carbon fiber, the chopper gun is a pneumatic tool that cuts fiberglass from a roll and sprays resin at the same time, so that the fiberglass and resin are mixed on the spot. The resin is either external mix, where the hardener and resin are sprayed separately, or internal, where they are mixed internally, which requires cleaning after every use."


So when you get so called dry carbon fiber parts, look under the lights, if you see lots pinholes........ Then it is not a true dry carbon parts. If the back of your parts are not smooth like a fabric, but with some resin residuals, then it may not be a true dry carbon parts.

So far the only real dry carbon fiber parts for e90s m3 are Er***son from Japan, they are made with true honest prepreg dry carbon fiber process. They are also excellent quality, comparable to OEM. Prepreg carbon fiber are also much hard to make and more expensive. But we exchange for perfect OEM like fitment and look (like m3 carbon fiber roof or e46 m3 CSL interior door panel). Wet-layed and infused carbon fiber parts are cheaper to make and fitments are rarely OEM like.

Some companies are honest about their product, some are not. The experience of the products and services builds a brand, but covering up the truth and misleading info will tarnish its reputation. .

Not trying nor targeted at any one or company, just trying to get what we paid for with your hard earned money and not fooled by misleading information and over priced products.
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      03-07-2009, 07:47 AM   #2
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99% of the "CF" parts here are overlaid. You need to be able to cure the CF (or any composite) under a lot of pressure to make a really strong and light part. Thus, the equipment to do that would make the part REALLY expensive.

For the most part, we are getting a good value. Let's face it, most here buy CF for the looks. So we only really need overlaid parts.

I think you should be more concerned with proper fitment. That's the hard part.
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      03-07-2009, 02:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjae1976 View Post
99% of the "CF" parts here are overlaid. You need to be able to cure the CF (or any composite) under a lot of pressure to make a really strong and light part. Thus, the equipment to do that would make the part REALLY expensive.

For the most part, we are getting a good value. Let's face it, most here buy CF for the looks. So we only really need overlaid parts.

I think you should be more concerned with proper fitment. That's the hard part.
I agree, most of us getting it just for looks and fitment is the number one concern. But some companies have misleading infos so we spend more on same wet-layed products, just different method of making it.

heres a pic of a ture dry carbon, prepreg carbon fiber, if product you bought claim to be dry carbon and does not look like this in the back, think again.

this is also what BMW OEM carbon product look like in the back.

we don't always get what we paid for with some misleading info out there.
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      03-08-2009, 09:12 PM   #4
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ACS Dry Carbon Aerodynamics

This post is very informative.

All of AC Schnitzer's carbon aerodynamic parts for the E9X M3 are true prepreg dry carbon fiber.

I think the OP is trying to say that if you are not buying a "replica" carbon part, at replica prices, there is more value in purchasing a superior product with OE like fit. The ACS rear diffusor for the E92 M3 (pictured below) weighs less than 2 lbs and fits like a glove.
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      03-08-2009, 09:24 PM   #5
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not all the time...think about it, if a VRS front "CF" overlay on fiberglass costs $1.5K and someone made a replica which is identical for half the price, do you think your really getting your moneys worth when you bought the "name brand" product?

But if your talking about real carbon fibre, dry carbon, then yes, i do think you get your moneys worth....
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      03-08-2009, 09:32 PM   #6
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is it safe to say that "real CF" products dont have a smooth black finish from the inside? (like that of products with fiberglass + CF overlay?)

So one easy way to spot real CF is that from the inside you can see the weave?
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      03-08-2009, 09:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m3manila View Post
is it safe to say that "real CF" products dont have a smooth black finish from the inside? (like that of products with fiberglass + CF overlay?)

So one easy way to spot real CF is that from the inside you can see the weave?
"Real" CF parts are paper thin and VERY light. There is no mistaking it once you see and feel it IRL.
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      03-08-2009, 09:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@CEC View Post
"Real" CF parts are paper thin and VERY light. There is no mistaking it once you see and feel it IRL.
i see, i have yet to experience holding the "two types" of CF hand in hand, i guess that would make me know what it really feels like
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      03-08-2009, 11:20 PM   #9
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some of the replica parts are actually have better fitment then its original brand, doesn't mean its better made. infusion we-layed parts can be almost as light as real prepreg dry carbon parts, but hard to compare since they are not same design, and the back of some well made infusion wet-layed parts may be have smooth back as well, but just look at the pin holes under the lights then the difference become obvious.

there are company out there using wet-layed carbon (doesn't matter if its infusion or fiber glass overlay) and charging real prepreg dry carbon price and made people believe they are dry carbon, and thats robbery. again, real prepreg dry carbon should not have fitment differences, i.e. some fits and some don't fit as well from same mold use to make the product. I've seen real ACS product in person and exhamine it carefully, the quality, fitment are BMW OE like and of course its using real prepreg dry carbon. only if ACS can come to their senses and not charge outrageous price and educate customers the differences then their sales would increase atleast 2000%. I'm sure if we can all get our hands on the real thing for reasonable price then no one would buy replicas or dry carbon wanna bes.
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      03-08-2009, 11:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank@CEC View Post
"Real" CF parts are paper thin and VERY light. There is no mistaking it once you see and feel it IRL.
some well made wet-layed infusion can be almost as thin but then pinholes become very obvious and it tend to flex more as well. and its hard for general user to tell the difference between "paper thin" and "almost paper thin" if they cant compare side by side.
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      03-08-2009, 11:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m3manila View Post
is it safe to say that "real CF" products dont have a smooth black finish from the inside? (like that of products with fiberglass + CF overlay?)

So one easy way to spot real CF is that from the inside you can see the weave?
look under the lights and you will be lots pinholes if its not prepreg dry carbon.
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      03-08-2009, 11:28 PM   #12
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not all the time...think about it, if a VRS front "CF" overlay on fiberglass costs $1.5K and someone made a replica which is identical for half the price, do you think your really getting your moneys worth when you bought the "name brand" product?

But if your talking about real carbon fibre, dry carbon, then yes, i do think you get your moneys worth....
not getting your money worth at all in this case. those replica vrs are actually better made and fits better and ofcourse better price.

I dont agree on the idea of replica, these replica compnay are stealing the design and thats the same as stealing. come up with their own design with better fitment then they would themself a name. replicas are just helping the real thing gain more exposure and people would over look how they were cheated in the first place.
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      03-08-2009, 11:43 PM   #13
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not getting your money worth at all in this case. those replica vrs are actually better made and fits better and ofcourse better price.

I dont agree on the idea of replica, these replica compnay are stealing the design and thats the same as stealing. come up with their own design with better fitment then they would themself a name. replicas are just helping the real thing gain more exposure and people would over look how they were cheated in the first place.
Thanks for the info. It's good to review on the CF manufacturing process from time to time. That big autoclave machine that one uses to make pre-preg CF parts is VERY, VERY expensive, so not every one can afford it. I believe they showed one giant autoclave on Extreme Engineering where it was used to make the carbon composite parts for the A380 jet.
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      03-09-2009, 06:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
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not all the time...think about it, if a VRS front "CF" overlay on fiberglass costs $1.5K and someone made a replica which is identical for half the price, do you think your really getting your moneys worth when you bought the "name brand" product?

But if your talking about real carbon fibre, dry carbon, then yes, i do think you get your moneys worth....
Think about what that VRS lip would cost if it was real CF. Probably closer to twice the price.
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      03-09-2009, 06:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
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i see, i have yet to experience holding the "two types" of CF hand in hand, i guess that would make me know what it really feels like
With composites in general, there is a HUGE difference in weight between a wet lay vrs dry lay. Most of the weight comes from the resin, not the reinforcing material (fg, kevlar, cf).

Strength comes from using pressure. Same difference between a cast and forged aluminum wheel. A forged wheel uses much higher pressures which makes the aluminum stronger lb for lb.

Which is why forged wheels are more expensive to produce...just like dry CF.
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      03-09-2009, 10:47 AM   #16
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Think about what that VRS lip would cost if it was real CF. Probably closer to twice the price.
thats true, but then compare the price of the name brand with the "replica". Two identical products but one is half the price. Besides the name of the brand, there is nothing different between the two.
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      03-09-2009, 06:06 PM   #17
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Some companies claim dry carbon construction, but are it real?

Well, if that companys name is Ericcson Ammuse it is. Just about any other is mostly just the "cheep" stuff. You got to pay to play if you want true no shit carbon you are going to pay the big bucks but if your just after some trunk spoiler or rear diffuser then I think the wrapped stuff or wet stuff is ok. After all when you purchase things like that you are just after the looks. There is no other application for that kind of stuff.

In my case I have a carbon fiber/kevlar front and rear bumper/apron (what ever you want to call 'em). They are lighter than stock and stronger than the original equipment and they come at a reasonable price.

You guys should check out Robson Design. They will make any carbon part for a fraction of the cost. Be aware its all the wrapped stuff.
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      03-09-2009, 07:00 PM   #18
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Well, if that companys name is Ericcson Ammuse it is. Just about any other is mostly just the "cheep" stuff. You got to pay to play if you want true no shit carbon you are going to pay the big bucks but if your just after some trunk spoiler or rear diffuser then I think the wrapped stuff or wet stuff is ok. After all when you purchase things like that you are just after the looks. There is no other application for that kind of stuff.

In my case I have a carbon fiber/kevlar front and rear bumper/apron (what ever you want to call 'em). They are lighter than stock and stronger than the original equipment and they come at a reasonable price.

You guys should check out Robson Design. They will make any carbon part for a fraction of the cost. Be aware its all the wrapped stuff.
How do you like the Robson pieces?
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      03-09-2009, 07:05 PM   #19
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Robson Design are wetlay or wrapped in Asia. they look good, but its ok to use such process for interior appearance stuff but nothing else.
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      03-09-2009, 07:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Thanks for the info. It's good to review on the CF manufacturing process from time to time. That big autoclave machine that one uses to make pre-preg CF parts is VERY, VERY expensive, so not every one can afford it. I believe they showed one giant autoclave on Extreme Engineering where it was used to make the carbon composite parts for the A380 jet.
prepreg dry carbon material are just like wet-layed carbon material, they can be purchased, prices are not night and day difference.

its cool that companies are making wet-layed product, but just be honest about it and not charge dry carbon prices. even Ericsson-Amuse are overpriced, but consider they production volume and fitment they are fair. I can't speak for the "v brand".
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      03-09-2009, 07:26 PM   #21
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Robson Design are wetlay or wrapped in Asia. they look good, but its ok to use such process for interior appearance stuff but nothing else.
Quote:
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prepreg dry carbon material are just like wet-layed carbon material, they can be purchased, prices are not night and day difference.

its cool that companies are making wet-layed product, but just be honest about it and not charge dry carbon prices. even Ericsson-Amuse are overpriced, but consider they production volume and fitment they are fair. I can't speak for the "v brand".
Hmm...... I can see what your agenda is. I don't particularly like that company that you are speaking of. However, I'm going to swear by Robson Design because they completed some amazing custom projects for me on my 335 and my E55. Of course they produce wet-laid carbon wrapped in OEM parts, but the fit and finish is exceptional.

As far as the cost goes, I am referring to the AUTOCLAVE being expensive, not the material itself. As a microbiologist, I use an autoclave all the time. I can't fathom how much it would cost to be get an industrial sized autoclave that can be used to cure front lips and diffusers.

I totally agree with you that one should not misrepresent his / her products.
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      03-10-2009, 01:35 AM   #22
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Quote:
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Robson Design are wetlay or wrapped in Asia. they look good, but its ok to use such process for interior appearance stuff but nothing else.
Yes its wet lay and yes its in Singapore. It is the only method for cf interior parts, lets face it, its for looks only when it comes to interior.

In regards to the "nothing else" I respectfully disagree. "the truth" is all this rear diffuser, front splitter, boot lid, carbon mirrors etc. is all for looks. You arent improving anything but the looks of the car. So who cares what its made of as long as it looks good. Before you get into the weeds about which type of cf diffuser is lighter, why dont you think about saving the added weight, time and money and just not put it on the car at all?

KEV - Robson is the deal! 1/4 the price and better quality than any other.

To comment further on the interior parts made from CF, I believe all are wrapped. The VRS one is I also believe the ACS one is and many other so in this specific topic I restate the original question "Are we getting what we paid for?" and the answer is HELL NO! My custom carbon wrapped interior is just as good if not better than anything I have seen to include OEM and the whole kit cost me 1/4 of what the AC one cost.
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