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Carbon Fibre Autobodies – Repair or Replace?

Published on June 19, 2014 by in Blog, CATI

There are no shortage of exciting developments in the automotive world these days, as we’re more focused than ever on making cars stronger, faster, and more environmentally friendly. This has led to tons of exciting developments like smart cars, self driving cars, hybrid vehicles and much more. One of the most exciting up and coming areas of automotive design right now is using revolutionary new materials when designing a vehicle’s body to ensure it’s not only stronger than traditional materials but lighter too.

Carbon Fibre

One of the most popular new materials to construct automobiles from is carbon fibre. Renowned for its extreme durability, lightness and sleek look, carbon fibre was long the body material of choice for insane concept cars and speed demons. Today, however, more and more automakers are choosing carbon fibre for its excellent ratio of strength to weight. Considering that the price of the material has come down a lot in the last decade or so, it makes sense that more and more people are adopting the futuristic material in lieu of traditional metals and plastics. The majority of Formula One racing cars are all built with carbon fibre, as carbon fibre is more resistant than steel to crashes. It also contributes to a much more fuel efficient vehicle, as this interesting video demonstrates:

Carbon fibre looks sleek and consists of thousands and thousands of tiny little strands of super strong carbon woven together. However, because of its composition it does present a bit of difficulty where repairs are concerned. Chances are if you take an auto mechanic course or go to mechanic school, you’ll now be expected to learn the ins and outs of carbon fibre repair.

Replace or Repair?

For all its durability, carbon fibre is actually a real pain to repair. Because of the way it’s composed, the original state of the fibre is called a primary bond, as it’s the first bond of the fibres. To repair a section of the car that’s been damaged, you’ll need to create what’s called a second bond. Creating a second bond is good for small fixes, but when it comes to much larger, more structural damage it’s not advisable. When you create a secondary bond, the structural integrity of the carbon fibre is reduced, meaning that if it’s a larger, more integral piece of the car, you could be putting yourself at risk.

Generally, for repairs that are being done to important and integral or larger parts of the car, it’s a much better idea to get the part replaced altogether. Any auto mechanic training that you meet will tell you as much, because a secondary bond is far more susceptible to damage than the primary bond and replacing a fender rather than trying to repair it is much safer and will ultimately be less costly.

Carbon fibre is a great material and is heralded by many as the future of automobile design, but there are still some kinks to work out when it comes to reparation. Knowing when and what to repair and what to replace is key.

 
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