What Is a Carbon Fiber Veneer and What Is It Used For?

Imagine you are a manufacturer. Choose any product, it doesn't really matter. Imagine your customers wishing you made a carbon fiber model. You don't because you know it would cost too much. Well, we may have a solution for you. That solution is carbon fiber veneers.

Rock West Composites specializes in all things carbon fiber. We carry raw materials for DIY and commercial fabrication. We carry finished carbon fiber tubes, prepregs, laminates, and sandwich panels. We even offer prototyping and small-run manufacturing. We say all that to say that veneers are just one small part of the Rock West product family.

More About the Veneer

A carbon fiber veneer is no different than any other veneer except that it is made with carbon fiber fabric and an epoxy resin. A veneer is essentially a thin sheet that is bonded to another material. Sometimes a veneer is used to improve the aesthetic look of a piece. Other times, veneers are part of a material's structure – like in the case of plywood.

Customers who purchase our carbon fiber veneers do so for aesthetic purposes. These are not structural sheets in any way, shape, or form. They are designed to give the look of carbon fiber without the expense of fabricating an entire part from the composite.

Fabricating entirely with carbon fiber is time-consuming and expensive. The raw materials cost more than other options while labor and energy costs only add to the price of the finished product. With a veneer, our customers can keep their manufacturing costs down while still giving customers the look they want. It should be noted that a carbon fiber veneer does not increase tensile strength or rigidity.

Carbon Fiber Veneer Applications

Now that you understand the veneer concept, let us talk about practical applications. Bear in mind that cost is one of the factors that prevents manufacturers from using carbon fiber when they otherwise would. The automotive sector is a perfect example. That is where we will go with our first practical application.

Automotive Skinning

It would be awesome if Ford or Chevy could build an affordable consumer car with an all-carbon fiber body. They cannot as it costs too much. On the other hand, you can improve the appearance of your car via automotive skinning. This is not the same thing as applying a wrap to your car.

Wrapping is a process of covering the entire body of a car with a vinyl wrap. You can buy vinyl wraps that have been engineered to look like carbon fiber. That's fine; a lot of people do it. What we are referring to as automotive skinning is taking select parts and covering them with carbon fiber veneer.

For example, you can apply the veneer to the outside of the wheel rims to make them look like carbon fiber. You can apply the veneer to mirrors, lamp bezels, your grill, your bumper, and so forth. Note that automotive skinning is for individual parts only. If you want to do the entire body of the car, consider a vinyl wrap instead.

Consumer Electronics

Skinning consumer electronics is another popular use of carbon fiber veneer. Some manufacturers apply the veneer to cell phone cases. Others apply it to laptop computers as well. Virtually any electronic device with a plastic case can be covered with a carbon fiber veneer for a more modern look.

If you would like to know more about carbon fiber veneers, give us a call. We would be happy to work with you to incorporate veneers into your manufacturing process.

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