Carbon Fiber Epoxy Infusion Application
Nick Schade, the owner and builder of Guillemot Kayaks, came to us at MAS Epoxies about a carbon fiber kayak build. As we all know carbon fiber has great physical properties but it is difficult to use with a hand layup. So, he sought out a resin suited for carbon fiber epoxy infusion. Using an infusion resin inside a vacuum bag compresses the fabric and straightens the fibers to create a stronger layup. With atmospheric pressure pushing against the bag, the carbon fiber is thinner and absorbs less resin which creates a tighter layup.
We sent him some infusion resin to test out on this project and it turned out great.
Nick Schade // Guillemot Kayaks:
“Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) is a method for creating composite parts. Also called Infusion, it uses vacuum pressure to distribute resin through the reinforcing fabric. It is considered one of the best methods for making composite products such as boats, aerospace and custom automotive parts. It allows for precise application of resin with no more resin than is absolutely necessary to wet out the fabric. The fabric is compressed so it lies flat and smooth. Done right there should be no air trapped in the layup. The results should be lighter and stronger than a hand layup.
I’ve been thinking about experimenting with infusion for a strip planked kayak for a long time. I wanted to get the advantages of infusion, but I was timid about giving it a try because it can really make a mess quickly. But, with an order for a mahogany microBootlegger I decided it was time to up my game a bit.”
I have incorporated carbon fiber in my kayaks before, but despite the great physical properties of carbon fiber it really was only a cosmetic application.”
The Infusion Process
- Place Fabric inside the hull
- A temporary peel ply fabric is on top of the carbon that creates a smooth surface
- Atop that is a release film which makes it easier to remove the temporary materials
- Last is flow media which accelerates the transfer of resin across the area of the fabric
- Place all in an air tight plastic bag.
- Attach a vacuum pump and remove all air
- Test the bag to assure the it does not leak
- Insert another clamped tube into a bucket of resin
- Remove the clamp from the tube, atmospheric pressure presses down on the resin, forcing it up the tube and into evacuated spaces in the fabric
- Resin will flow into all the empty volume in the bag and the fabric is completely wet out
- Wait for the epoxy to fully cure
- Strip and throw away the bag, flow media, release film and peel ply
Nick’s infusion experiment turned out beautiful and strong. He offers pointers in his blog post which you can read here. Nick recommends you use a thicker bag versus a thinner one to avoid resin leakage. He also mentions that you should continue the flow of resin until you see the speed of flow dramatically slow or top. This will ensure the part is fully laminated.
To read more on Nick’s experience with carbon fiber epoxy infusion visit his blog post.