can you bend carbon fiber

Can You Bend Carbon Fiber? Let’s Find Out The Answer!

You need to bend the carbon fiber for work purposes. But you have no idea if it is doable. 

And knowing how expensive carbon fiber is, you can not afford to mess up by experimenting.

So, now you are wondering, can you bend carbon fiber?

No, you can not. Carbon fibers are basically carbon weave penetrated with epoxy. The chainlike bonds of its molecules provide incredible stiffness and rigidity. Even applying heat will not work. However, with extreme heat like 200° F, you may get a gentle curve. But an actual bend is not possible.

Not sure yet? Well, do not worry. Because, in this guide, we have answered all your questions. Plus, included some additional information that you are gonna find helpful.

So, keep scrolling to find out!

Is It Possible to Bend Carbon Fiber?

The answer is no. It is not possible to bend carbon fiber. But you prepping the carbon fiber is possible and necessary to avoid down falling of the fiber layers. 

All carbon fibers are basically carbon weave penetrated with epoxy. You can think of it more like fiberglass where the carbon weave is definitely stronger. 

So, even applying heat will not work in this case.

Now you may wonder, can you bend a carbon fiber rod?

Again, the answer remains the same. Bending carbon fiber rods or tubes is somewhat impossible as well. If you attempt doing it, you might end up destroying the strength. 

The reason is its extreme rigidity which provides the carbon fiber the strength characteristics. Basically, it does not stretch. Plus, if you compress it, then it will lose its strength. You may compare this with a shoestring.

Brushless carbon fiber body is used in Traxxas E-Revo diff upgrade.

Now a question may to your mind why is carbon fiber so stiff and rigid?

When you say ‘carbon fiber,’ it is really meant as “carbon-fiber composite”. Carbon is not the only element in the frame. That gives carbon fibers incredible stiffness properties. 

So, a gentle curve may just work out. But, at this level, you are not really reshaping the tube. Though it might give it a somewhat absurd shape.

But in case you are looking for an actual bend, then the answer is no. It is not going to work.

carbon-fiber composite
Source: RC Car Action

Why Can’t Carbon Fiber Be Bent?

Some parts of RC cars are made out of carbon fiber. As stated before, Traxxas E-Revo chassis is made out of carbon fiber. Here’s an amazing video of Traxxas E-Revo.

Here we will let you know the reasons why you can not bend carbon fiber. Go through it carefully.

Reason 1: Chainlike Molecule of Carbon

Carbon fiber is considered as one of the strongest elements on earth. The reason is the chainlike bonds of its molecules. 

The structure is generated during all those chemical reactions the fiber encounters while being made. And, the severe temperature changes which the fiber goes through as well.

Reason 2: The Process of Layering

The procedures bind thousands of tiny strands together. Then mix those with an epoxy. These strands then form a layer of the carbon fiber.

Its strength is influenced by the explicit orientation of the strands. And what type of fabric is being used in the layer as well.

One single layer of the carbon fiber tends to be around 0.25 mm thick. Also, it is not that strong at all.

Moreover, with that amount of thickness, the carbon fiber is pretty easy to break.

This might be counterintuitive to your knowledge about the carbon fiber being super strong.

However, its strength is formulated in the process of amassing multiple layers. And using that orientation as well as the weave of fibers. This process is known as the “layup.”

The molecular purity of the carbon fiber assists it in developing a tightly bonded structure, too.

This is the reason carbon fiber will not bend. Even if you apply extreme heat.

layer of the carbon fiber
Source: Empow’Her

Moulding Carbon Fiber

So, we have already established that you can not heat and bend the carbon fiber. And all the carbon fibers are usually carbon weave penetrated with epoxy.

Carbon fiber panels prepared with the epoxy resins are not thermoplastic or heat formable. 

So, clearly you can not heat and bend a finished sheet to hold a curved shape.

As the Carbon fiber laminates are not gonna stretch like plastic. 

You might get an extremely limited amount of curvature in one direction by applying high heat. 

For example, over 200° F. However, because of the difficulties you are going to face doing this, we don’t recommend it. 

But here is one thing you can try.

The molded parts can be made. However, the carbon fiber fabric should be set in the mold for that.

Then it should be infused with epoxy before the heating or curing process.

But you need to keep in mind one thing. That is, a flexible carbon fiber sheet can be bent in a simple curve.

For example, around a pipe. 

But it can not be bent in a complex curve like encircling a ball.

Many users reported installing carbon fiber veneers successfully. They used adhesive film on mufflers.

Not so complex one like e revo motor upgrade.

Nevertheless, we can not make any particular recommendations for applications over 200° F. 

You are very welcome to do some experiments with heat. However, be warned, it is completely at your own risk.

Moulding Carbon Fiber
Source: Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you harden carbon fiber?

You can harden carbon fiber by heating it. Heating the carbon fiber part would prompt its curing process. You have to heat the part between 250 °F and 350 °F for some hours. Or you may allow that part to cure slower without heat. It will usually take at least about 24 hours.

Is forged carbon stronger than carbon fiber?

The forged composite includes a higher fiber volume quantity. It is combined with a higher variation in the strand orientation. Thus increasing its average strength. Plus, it lessens the variability more than the standard carbon fiber.

Can you make carbon fiber parts without a vacuum?

Yes, it is possible. It uses heat and vacuum on carbon fiber only one time. Even when being heat activated, it is still a structural piece. At that state, it utilizes heat activated resin for curing it up solid. So, you can make the carbon fiber parts without the vacuum.

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