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Matt Bacon

"Forged carbon" for your Lamborghini the cheap and easy way

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Posted (edited)

"Forged Carbon" components are an alternative to laboriously-crafted carbon fibre parts which have to be built up from layer upon layer, of fabric and end up with the graphite checkerboard or woven twill look we all know, and for which you can buy decals in many sizes, weaves and scales. Lamborghini pioneered forged carbon, but it's now to be seen on aftermarket parts for other mean machines, like a wing for a Hellcat. It looks like this:

forged-carbon-real.jpg

I think there may be one decal sheet available, but since forged carbon is usually to be found made up into complex shapes, that being the point of the stuff, decals don't seem to be a great solution anyway. I thought I'd try painting it instead, and what follows is how you can make reasonably convincing forged carbon pieces in a few  minutes with minimum cursing and stuff you probably have lying around...

basic-tools.jpg

packing-sponge.jpg

The basic tools are a couple of shades of grey -- you don't need forty -- Tamiya Smoke, tweezers, a paper palette, and the all-important sponge. This is packing sponge that once protected a graphics card in a cardboard box, and I keep around for things like filling intakes to stop paint getting inside.

bits-o-foam.jpg

At the back, our convenient piece of black painted plastic ("Here's one I prepared earlier"). At the front, a few small pinched off pieces of foam.

foam-in-tweezers.jpg

first-grey.jpg

Grab a piece of foam in the tweezers, scrabble it in the lightest grey, and dab it on the palette until it starts to make speckles rather than blotches.

pale-splotching.jpg

Then dab all over your surface. It works just as well on curved bits 3D bits. If you have areas of forged carbon surrounded by something else (eg carbon air vents in an alcantara grey dashboard top) then do the carbon first and paint the surroundings after, so you can cover up any wayward blotches...

second-grey.jpg

Go to the darker grey, and then the black. If you feel like it needs more highlights, or is looking too repetitive, tear off a different shaped bit of sponge, and go back for another pass with your grey of choice. Once you've worked through the layers and additions/touch-ups, you'll end up with something like this:

all-splotched.jpg

Finally, apply a topcoat of Tamiya Smoke to blend and give it a shiny surface. On small parts, brushing it on works fine, but here I've airbrushed it.

final-2.jpg

If you look hard, you can maybe see that I've applied a heavier layer of smoke at the right hand end, which tones it down a bit. The camera tries to balance out the exposure, so it's a bit more contrasty than in real life, but you get the idea...

And this is how it looks used in anger, on a Huracan Performante:

dash-from-right.jpg

back-end-assembled.jpg

built-high-right-rear.jpg

best,

M.

Edited by Matt Bacon

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Posted (edited)

Lest there be any misunderstanding, it's important to note that "forged" carbon is nowhere near as strong as traditional carbon with carefully oriented fiber. "Forged" carbon is essentially chopped carbon fibers and resin goo, pressed in matched molds. It was developed to make carbon parts quickly and economically, in shapes that would be too complex to be laid-up in the traditional manner, at considerable reduction in structural strength.

Think of the difference between particle board or MDF, etc, and plywood, and you have the idea.They all use wood fibers and glue, but the specific orientation of the fibers in plywood, and the much longer fibers, results in much greater strength.

"Forged" carbon really isn't forged at all, as anyone familiar with metallurgy will realize instantly. Forging is the repeated hammering of a metal into a shape that has much better controlled grain than cast metal, is more dense, and is stronger as a result.

"Forged" applied to carbon is a catchy marketing term whose meaning is stretched far from its correct definition.

"Forged" carbon is used primarily in relatively low-stress parts, for now, and though work is moving forward to try to utilize it for things like suspension control arms, so far, it's not being integrated into production vehicles in high-stress applications.

NOTE: The Wikipedia article contains several errors and/or incorrect or incomplete information regarding this material.

 

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Cool technique.  Always nice to have techniques that are quick and yeild great results.

I think in this case the forged is being used in the context of being fake or counterfeit.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, bobthehobbyguy said:

...I think in this case the forged is being used in the context of being fake or counterfeit.

Nope. It's being used as an attempt to conflate two thoroughly different procedures, that of forging metal and that of forming composite sheet-molding-compound in matched press-dies, into a term that is, frankly, highly misleading...especially to those outside the composite materials industry.

"Fake" or "counterfeit" carbon fiber has been available commercially for well over a decade, in the form of decals, other types of decorative film, and black-dyed fiberglass.

The stuff really does have some interesting and novel characteristics, and its use in highly-stressed structural applications where traditional carbon fabrication techniques don't work well at all, looks promising. But it's no more "forged" than I am...though the term is kinda typical in a world that now largely ignores word meanings.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Thanks for the photos! I was unaware of "forged carbon" as a surface finish trend. Not sure if I like it, but I don't have Lambo $$$ so I guess I don't need to make a final decision, lol.  I'm always happy to see how modelers represent real finishes in scale. This one is tricky because of the way the carbon chunks catch the light...sometimes creative fakery is the best way to approximate an effect like that, as you've done here!

As for the name of the material...the use of "forged" is used semi-metaphorically here, to mean "brought into existence".

As in: "forged in a deeply collaborative environment" or "forged from only the highest quality materials".

Diamonds are "forged" and require high temperature and pressure to create, so I'm imagining they were hoping to imply that the high-temp and pressure process they use to make these carbon parts produces similar strength. It's a good marketing hook, that's for sure.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The results look convincing to my eyes, thanks for the tutorial, Matt.

On 7.3.2019 at 10:46 PM, Matt Bacon said:

The basic tools are a couple of shades of grey -- you don't need forty

:)

Edited by Tommy124

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It almost looks like spatter paint.

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