Carbon-fibre-reinforced-polymer, or simply Carbon Fibre, is a material made up of a woven carbon fibre fabric combined with a polymer resin which is then molded to form a composite material. This process creates extremely high strength, low weight items. There are literally thousands of applications for a material like carbon fibre, the biggest of which are aerospace, aviation, automotive and structural engineering.
Carbon Fibre entered the automotive scene extensively in motorsport as the unrivalled strength-to-weight ratio was essential for building the next generation of race car. It provided the manufactures with the ability to build a faster car due to the light weight of the materials, while also being safer for the driver with the increase of strength to things like the monocoque chassis. This technology has integrated more and more into modern day supercars for the exact same reason plus with its ties to motorsport, carbon fibre provides a race car look and feel.
The only downside to carbon fibre is the cost. While the price of carbon fibre is dropping day by day, it’s still upwards of 10x that of steel. Thats not to mention the time and cost of labour involved in production.
Carbon fibre is is also very popular in the aftermarket automotive scene with availability of replacement accessories, both interior and exterior and even whole panels. On a road car though, its often the look that is desired not its high strength or light weight properties so it can be pretty difficult to stomach the price tag that comes along with it. There are also legal ramifications that are associated with aftermarket panels made of fibreglass and composite materials. You’ll find in most states and territories in Australia that technically a carbon fibre bonnet is illegal without certification though debates on this run rampant on forums.
Enter Carbon Fibre Wrap. This PVC vinyl wrap film was made to replicate the look of carbon fibre. The top-of-the-line cast vinyl like 3M’s Series 1080 was made specifically for use in automotive application and when applied correcty can have a lifespan of up to 7 years. This product is wrapped over the original panel and protects the surface beneath while providing a race car look at a fraction of the price though there is absolutely no change in panel strength or weight.
So whether its real or wrap, its hard to dispute that carbon fibre is the new black.