Cutting Carbon Fiber

I want to make some stuff out of carbon fiber plate, about 0.06 or 0.09
inch thick (I'm not sure which). Like this stuff:
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I need to whack out rectangles of the stuff, make tidy rectangular holes
in them, and then make numerous drilled holes (16x, 0.1" diameter).
Is it even possible to work on this stuff with hand tools? Will a
hacksaw blade or coping saw even make a dent in it? (I don't mind if I
have to replace a lot of blades -- that's why they're made disposable,
after all).
Or should I be thinking in terms of figuring out how to clamp it into my
mill and cut it with solid carbide cutters?
How nasty is the dust?
Any other bits of wisdom are appreciated.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
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If you don't mind a little burn mark it should laser cut real easy. No first hand experience but I bet it dulls tooling even faster than fiberglass.
----- Regards, Carl Ijames
I want to make some stuff out of carbon fiber plate, about 0.06 or 0.09 inch thick (I'm not sure which). Like this stuff:
formatting link

I need to whack out rectangles of the stuff, make tidy rectangular holes in them, and then make numerous drilled holes (16x, 0.1" diameter).
Is it even possible to work on this stuff with hand tools? Will a hacksaw blade or coping saw even make a dent in it? (I don't mind if I have to replace a lot of blades -- that's why they're made disposable, after all).
Or should I be thinking in terms of figuring out how to clamp it into my mill and cut it with solid carbide cutters?
How nasty is the dust?
Any other bits of wisdom are appreciated.
Reply to
Carl Ijames
From reading the web site it is 670 gm cloth, which isn't tremendously heavy cloth, which is already infused with epoxy.
Carbon, or glass for that matter, is not terribly hard to cut but should be treated with some respect. When you cut it or drill it you generate bits of carbon or glass that are like tiny needles and will be all over the place. If you get them on your skin it will you itch like crazy and if you breath them they lodge in your lungs and you could, after some years, develop something similar to black lung or silicosis.
If you watch guys in the business you will note that they all wear long sleeve coveralls or similar clothing and when they are cutting or machining the stuff they wear some sort of breathing filter.
Normal tools will cut the stuff but if carbon will wear the blades fairly rapidly. Cutting squares I think I'd be tempted to use a 4" hand grinder with a 1 mm cutoff wheel. They will cut carbon laminate like cheese and if you had a long metal or wood guide you should be able to slice strips off about as fast as you can walk.
I'd start out drilling using H.S. drills and see how that went. You might want to switch to something harder, carbide maybe, if you have a very large number of holes. If you are doing a lot of machining in a small space. like a drill press, it would facilitate clean ups if you were to position a shop vacuum hose nozzle to suck up the swarf and dust as close to the work as possible.
If you get a bunch of the dust on your bare skin you will, as I mentioned, itch like crazy. A mentholated body talc will take a lot of the itching out. Over here we have a mentholated "Prickly Heat" powder that comes in a very distinctive can. You'll usually see a can in almost every "fiberglass" guy's locker :-)
Reply to
John B.
(top posting fixed)
Sorry -- I'm thinking of how I might do this in my home shop, where the highest-tech piece of equipment I have is a cheap milling machine. Laser cutting means sending it out, and sending it out means that it gets done right but for lots of $$.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
Those cheap blue-tube endmills that dull so quickly last longer at carbon-steel cutting speed. If you have some you could try them at little risk.
I buy and regrind used end mills to use on mystery metal, circuit boards etc. Generally they are of good quality, but dull, and perhaps undersized which isn't a problem for one-off jobs on a manual machine. jsw
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
Oh you wimps.
I grew up in a fiberglass shop (Wescott's Auto Restyling). Wear 100% cotton clothing, take a good hot shower after your workday, and only bother with the coveralls taped at all the seams crap if you're going to spend the day grinding -- if you're doing some gluing, some grinding, some bolting, etc., just wear shorts and a T-shirt.
But if you go and put a polyester shirt on within a week of having been doing all that, be ready for Death by Itching.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
If TiAlN coated endmills are available at a small premium they may be worth the money. The coating makes a huge difference in abrasive metals, moly and tungsten, for example.
Reply to
Ned Simmons
They are. This is Enco stuff, but it's for low-production one-off, so who am I to complain?
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$16 for a MT-3 collet for my Smithy, plus three end mills, I'm at less than $40 before shipping. That's not too bad. Carbide drill bits are $6/ each from Enco, if I don't feel like sharpening lots of drills (the thing needs 16 holes per piece, if I make half a dozen then I've drilled 96 holes).
Reply to
Tim Wescott
Is that powder "Mexana" brand by any chance? I knew it in South Texas in the 1950s, but had no idea that it was still made.
Enjoy, DoN.
Reply to
DoN. Nichols
A hacksaw or coping saw should work just fine and will not produce much dust.
Carbon fiber is not all that hard. The dust is mostly expoxy. But should not be a big problem.
Boron fiber is a different story. It produces splinters .
Dan
Reply to
dcaster
Carbide rod saw in hacksaw frame
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I use these to cut hard stuff like ceramic tile. You could use water to keep the dust down.
Also, I wonder if you could score & snap this material like I do with fiberglass PC boards?
Reply to
rangerssuck
No. it is "Snake Brand Prickly Heat powder", manufactured by "The British Dispensary" in Bangkok, Thailand. But it is likely the same thing - talc and "refreshing natural oils", probably menthol.
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Reply to
John B.
[ ... ]
O.K. IIRC, the Mexana had some Boric Acid as part of it way back when. And in those less enlightened times, it was originally sold as "Mexican Heat Rash Powder" before they changed to the "Mexana" name.
In any case, it sure made life more comfortable in the summertime. :-)
Enjoy, DoN.
Reply to
DoN. Nichols
Kind of like "Darkie" tooth paste that was common here. Made in Hong Kong, if I remember, but now changed to "Darlie" tooth paste to avoid any ill feelings :-)
Reply to
John B.
I expect it would work to score and snap. Being carbon fiber it would probably act the same as a thicker plate of fiberglass.
Dan
Reply to
dcaster
nch thick (I'm not sure which). Like this stuff: http://www.rockwestcomposi tes.com/products/402-612 I need to whack out rectangles of the stuff, make tidy rectangular holes in them, and then make numerous drilled holes (16x, 0.1" diameter). Is it even possible to work on this stuff with hand tools? Will a hacksaw blade or coping saw even make a dent in it? (I don't mind if I have to replace a lot of blades -- that's why they're made disposable, a fter all). Or should I be thinking in terms of figuring out how to clamp it into my mill and cut it with solid carbide cutters? How nasty is the dust? Any other bits of wisdom are appreciated. -- Tim Wescott Wescott Design Se rvices
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Made some shapes out of rockwest 0.03 carbon sheet. The easest way to cut compled shapes is send it to a water jet company. Water jet into cabon d oes not like holes but once they are pierced it cuts well,
Reply to
Dan

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