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      03-07-2009, 05:03 AM   #1
The Truth
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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.