Frequently Asked Questions
The Order Process
Below are common questions we receive about the order process. If you have questions on composites, whether technical or general, check out the below sections.
Q: Do you have a catalog?
A: In an effort to be as eco-friendly as possible we do not offer a printed catalog. All of our available product, pricing structures and ordering can be done online.
Q: I am in Utah. Can I come visit the facility or pick up my order?
A: Yes. For local orders please place the order online prior to coming in. The order must be placed online before Noon MST for the order to be ready same day and available for pick up at 4pm or later. You are welcome to stop by anytime during our business hours to view our facility and see our products in person. Our business hours are 8am – 5pm Monday through Thursday. 8am to 3:30pm on Fridays. If you are a school wanting a tour, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Do you sell to the public?
A: Yes. Our pricing structures are the same for both business and individual customers.
Q: As a business can I get a discount?
A: Our pricing structure is based strictly on product quantity. These low prices are available to individuals and businesses equally. RWC prices and discounts are subject to change without notice and do not include any state or local taxes. Buyer shall pay, in addition to the price of the goods, all applicable taxes and excises unless Buyer furnishes RWC with a valid “Reseller Number” or copy of tax exemption certificates prior to ordering. Refund for sales tax cannot be refunded after order has been placed. Prices are quoted and payable in US Dollars. All orders are subject to applicable shipping, freight, taxes, and handling charges.
Q: Is there a minimum order?
A: Not for most items. However we do have required lengths. Most of our tubing is sold as full length tubes (72”) and sometimes smaller sizes (sizes will be listed in the length field). The filament wound tubes are sold per foot.
Q: Can I make an order online if I am an international customer?
A: Yes. Our online ordering system allows for international shipments. These are subject to additional charges due to importation and customs fees. Rock West will not be responsible for reimbursement of these fees unless Rock West shipped erroneously. On occasion the charges automatically collected by the website may not be sufficient for the service. In this case we will reach out to you to collect the difference.
Q: What forms of payment do you accept?
A: All purchases must be prepaid either by a major credit card, a bank debit card or by PayPal. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.
Credit terms: All orders are subject to credit approval. Unless otherwise agreed to in advance, terms are NET 30 DAYS FROM DATE OF INVOICE. Rock West Composites (RWC) may require full or partial payment or payment guarantee in advance of shipment whenever, in its opinion, the financial condition of the buyer so warrants. RWC reserves the right to assess a service charge of 1.5% per month on unpaid balances, until paid. Buyer shall be liable for all expenses, including attorney’s fees, related to the collections of past due accounts. RWC reserves the right to withhold shipment of materials pending resolutions of past due account balances and the right to revise credit terms based on credit history.
Q: Do you charge sales tax?
A: In response to the Wayfair Decision, we charge tax in states where we do not qualify for an exemption and are required to do so by law. Currently, those states include California, Colorado, Georgia, Government, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. This list changes regularly.
If you would like to submit an exemption, you must create an account by submitting your Sales Tax Resale Certificate to us via the email email@example.com. The exemption must be approved before purchasing, as we cannot issue refunds for tax after the sale. Please reference the email address associated with your account when submitting your forms. The approval process normally takes 1-2 business days. (See Tax Exemptions under Payment Terms on our Policies page.)
Q: How can I determine if I will be charged tax so I know to submit my Sales Tax Resale Certificate?
A: Fill your cart with your desired order and then view the cart. Under Estimate Shipping, enter your destination/postal code and shipping method. Scroll down to Cart Summary and you will see your estimated price including tax if is required. If you determine you need to submit your certificate to avoid sales tax, you can login and save your cart for later (button is below the Cart Summary). Submit your certificate as instructed in the above answer. (Or see Tax Exemptions under Payment Terms on our Policies page.) Once approved for exemption, you can login, load your saved cart, and make your purchase.
Q: What methods of shipping do you offer?
A: The majority of orders are shipped by United Parcel Service (UPS) Ground. When checking out online you can request 3 Day Select, 2nd Day Air and Next Day Air for orders shipping in the US. If you have a UPS/ FedEx account we can ship “collect” on your account.
Q: How much is U.S. shipping?
A: Shipping costs are determined by the following: weight, lengths and exact zip codes. You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 - $30 dollars for UPS ground shipping.
Q: How long will it take me to get my order once placed, processed and shipped?
A: Most orders placed will be processed the following day. This applies to Next Day Air and any other expedited services. If you must have an order ship out SAME DAY, then please phone us prior to 12pm MST to determine whether or not we can fulfill your request. Here is a UPS Ground chart. On occasion, we may be temporarily out of stock on an item, in which case we will in good faith keep you updated and give an expected lead time for production.
All goods are sold FOB RWC shipping point. Goods may be shipped in a single shipment or multiple shipments at RWC’s discretion. RWC will attempt in good faith to meet estimated shipping dates but shall not be liable to Buyer for any loss or damages due to delay caused by RWC. We cannot guarantee that all product is available and ready to ship. We do our best to keep enough inventory on hand to fulfill anticipated orders although occasionally a large order will come in that depletes particular items. If in question, please call us at (801) 566-3402 to check inventory status.
Q: Do you ship internationally?
A: Yes. Our international order policy is as follows: We will only ship through UPS. Shipping rates will be dependent on location. International shipments are subject to additional charges due to importation and customs fees. Rock West will not be responsible for reimbursement of these fees unless Rock West shipped erroneously. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Q: Does Rock West Composite have a distributor near me?
A: Not yet. Our products are only offered to you directly from our Utah facility at this time.
Q: Do you manufacture your products?
A: Rock West Composites manufacturers the majority of the product you see on our website in our Salt Lake City, Utah & Tijuana, Mexico facility, although we also distribute a host of products such as adhesives, fabrics and prepregs from other suppliers.
Below find answers to frequently asked questions on our composite products. These are focused on the most common questions our team is asked regarding composites, recommendations, and instructions. Continue to the section below this for information on Technical Specifications.
Are RWC composite tubes UV resistant?
No. The resin systems used in composite materials are rarely suited for prolonged UV exposure. In order to achieve UV resistance, we recommend you select to have us sand the tubing smooth and then you can have an automotive shop paint the tubes to your liking. If your need is for more than 10 tubes, we will happily provide pricing for us to do it for you.
Can I form carbon fiber tubing/plate by heating it up?
No. The carbon we offer is made using a thermoset resin chemistry which provides greater stiffness and strength properties. If you want something that can be heat formed, you must look for a thermoplastic based resin system. This is not common in our industry (yet).
Always wear safety glasses & a respirator when cutting composite materials since a fine dust is often generated in the process.
High (spindle) speed, low (travel per time) feed. This is a good rule of thumb when cutting composites with traditional tooling (e.g., drilling, milling etc.)
What do you use to cut carbon fiber?
We use high-speed wet saws with diamond abrasive round saw blades.
You could also use a tile saw, abrasive metal cut off wheels, or dremel with diamond cut off wheel.
Do not use a hack saw.
FOR PLATES AND SANDWICH PANELS:
We use a waterjet or CNC mill with carbide tools or diamond abrasive tools. Or we do straight cuts on panel saws with a diamond coated saw blade, dry cut vacuum evacuation or a large tile saw wet with diamond abrasive saw.
You could use a tile saw, abrasive metal cut off wheels, or dremel with diamond cut off wheel.
Do not use a hack saw.
We use carbide drill bits.
You could use any metal drill bits or carbide drill bits.
Do not use concrete bits.
TIP: When cutting, if you are getting chunks, increase the tools speed, and slow down how much you are cutting at a time. Seeing just dust is good!
FOR DRY MATERIALS (FABRICS AND PREPREGS):
Most materials we sell in their raw form (prior to cure, and or resin infusion) sharp scissors work very well. We even offer electric shears which make short work of cutting dry materials. For aramids (e.g., Kevlar) we suggest you use finely serrated scissors.
Can RWC dry fabrics be used in face coverings?
No. Our dry fabrics are for industrial use and not for textile use.
Which is the stiffer carbon fiber tube:
Unidirectional Tubing, Fabric Tubing, or Filament Wound Tubing?
Unidirectional and Fabric tubing will be slightly stiffer (in bending) than the Filament Wound tubing. Each of these processes inherently produce different tube stiffnesses due to different fiber wrap angles (or lay-up).Filament wound tubing is generally better for torsional (twist) applications while Unidirectional and Fabric tubing is generally better for bending.
How much stiffer is a carbon fiber tube than an aluminum tube?
Carbon fiber is typically 1.4-1.5 X stiffer than aluminum, everything else being equal.
How much stiffer is a carbon fiber tube than an aluminum tube?
Carbon fiber is typically 1.4-1.5 X stiffer than aluminum, everything else being equal.
How much lighter is a carbon fiber tube than an aluminum tube?
Carbon fiber is 2/3 the weight of aluminum (or 1/3 less).
What's the difference between sanded vs. unsanded "Cello Wrap (gloss)" tube finishes?
The biggest difference between these two finish options is surface smoothness and visual appearance.
UNSANDED CELLO WRAP (GLOSS)
This is offered as our standard finish. The texture of the tube can be described as "ribbed" and is dark gloss black.
Pros: Hard/tough surface, great for general abuse, looks good too.
Cons: Outer diameter tolerance not as easily controlled.
Twill Fabric - Unsanded Cello Wrap (Gloss)
Uni - Unsanded Cello Wrap (Gloss)
Filament Wound - Unsanded Cello Wrap (Gloss)
Provides a smooth surface finish and a matte gray visual.
Pros: Sanding enables us to dial in an outer diameter however this may distort the pattern on the fabric tubing if a specific OD is requested.
Cons: Sanding removes the "protective" outer layer of cured resin, exposing the raw fiber. This does however provide a paint ready surface so that you can apply any type of UV resistant / clear gloss paint coat.
Twill Fabric - Sanded smooth matte
Uni - Sanded smooth matte | Bicycle Tubing
Filament Wound - Sanded smooth matte
What about other finishes on stock products?
Read about our Stock Product Finish Options.
What does filament count mean?
Filament count is the number of individual filaments that are included in each tow.
Tow is the strand or small bundle of carbon that you see in woven fabric or spools of carbon fiber.
Filaments are the individual carbon fibers included in the tow or strand.
FILAMENT COUNT (1k, 3k 6k, 12k, etc.):
This number indicates the total number of filaments included in a tow. The “k” represents 1000. For instance, a 3k filament count is 3000 individual filaments contained in a single tow or strand.
MEANING OF FILAMENT COUNT:
The higher the filament count, the thicker and more difficult the material is to handle with bends and compound curves. Filament count choice should be determined by the engineering requirements.
Advantages of unidirectional fabric
Unidirectional fabrics have all the fibers running in a single direction. These materials have certain advantages over woven fabrics.
The technician has greater control over exact ply orientation for stiffer and lighter components.
Unidirectional fibers are thinner than woven fabrics, so you have more control over laminate thickness.
Resin content is kept to a more controlled amount due to flatter laminates, which have less void space than woven fabrics.
Disadvantages of unidirectional fabric
It can take longer to laminate a part because the plies are typically 50% thinner than woven.
Edges are more susceptible to fraying and delaminating the length of the fiber.
Unidirectional fibers are hard to laminate on tight inside and outside corners. The fibers are very stiff and don’t naturally bend.
Unidirectional layups do not present the same as woven and don’t have a typical carbon fiber look.
Advantages of woven fabric
Some weaves will conform to compound curves better because of loose weaves and weave patterns. They also maintain adjacent fiber angles while conforming to complex shapes. (Unidirectional fibers are very difficult to conform to sharp inside and outside corner.) 2x2 twill is the most common for good drapability.
Some patterns just look better from a distance and are used to get that traditional carbon fiber look. Again, 2x2 twill is very common.
Woven fabrics resist edge fraying better than unidirectional fibers, especially when damaged. The woven tows will stop fraying as they pass under the perpendicular adjacent fibers. Some designers will place a single ply on the outside surface for durability and cosmetics.
Woven fabrics are thicker than unidirectional fibers, so they build thickness faster than unidirectional layups.
With each ply, you have an automatic isotropic layup with equal stiffness in two directions. (Isotropic: having a physical property which has the same value when measured in different directions.)
Disadvantages of woven fabric
With woven fabrics, there is always equal number of fibers running in one direction as is running in the perpendicular direction. This limits the customizable ply orientation by always including ply orientations in two directions for every ply.
As the fiber is woven, it passes over and under perpendicular fibers creating a slight bend in the fiber. As carbon fiber is strongest when it is straight, this crimping can cause a slight loss in bending stiffness. This is generally thought of as minimal, but in some structural applications, it can be a very important distinction.
Woven fabrics will require a little more resin content to fill in all the gaps between the woven tows. Typically, it is about 5-10% more resin for woven fabrics. This can add weight and change the structural aspects of the part.
What are typical weave patters?
There are quite a few different weave patterns. Here are the most common.
Each strand is woven over one perpendicular strand, then under the next, then the pattern repeats.
A twill weave is 2 strands over two strands and then under two strands. However, the adjacent strands are staggered by one strand to create a diagonal affect.
SPREAD TOW CHECKERBOARD:
These patterns or typically a plain weave pattern but use a single tow that is spread extra wide to create a very broad tow. This has specific benefits:
- Reduces the total crimping of the weave to increase the structural aspect of the fabric.
- Reduces ply thickness to help control total part thickness.
- Reduces resin content.
- Mimics a 0° and 90° unidirectional layup with a single ply.
- Offers excellent cosmetics.
Below is a repository of technical specifications, tolerances, and guides for all of our products and materials. You can find more specific technical information on the individual product page.
General Stock Tube Tolerances
For round and shaped composite tubing, includes ID, OD, length
Shear strength, cure time, work life, etc.
Carbon Fiber Plates
Information on dimensional tolerances, materials, resins
- Stock Plates - Panels - Angles Tolerance Sheet Rev. NC
- Unidirectional finish - Uni Plate Specs
- Fabric 40x-xx part #'s
Carbon Fiber Specification Sheets
Common fibers used in our manufacturing process for carbon fiber
- Pre preg:
- Standard Modulus - 35msi - TR50S Fiber
- Standard Modulus - 33msi - T700S
- Intermediate Modulus - 42msi - MR60 Fiber
- High Modulus - 57msi - HR40 Fiber
- Filament winding:
- Standard Modulus - 34msi (or higher, up to 37msi, and 800ksi) - 34-700 24K Tow / Fiber
- Intermediate Modulus - 42msi - MR60 Tow / Fiber
- High Modulus - 57msi - HR40 Tow / Fiber
- High Modulus - 66msi - HS40 Tow / Fiber
- Resin infusion:
- Standard Modulus - 33msi - T700S
Resin System Specification Sheets
Common resin systems used in our manufacturing processes
Custom Quote Process
We receive questions about custom work quite often on our website. Perhaps you have an idea for a new product, but you’re not sure how or if it can be manufactured using carbon fiber, you have no idea what it will cost to do so, and you wonder how the cost may change going from prototype into mass production. Well, here are some answers for you!
Do you have a CAD model?
It helps us greatly if you have a detailed computer-aided-design (CAD) model of your idea. This will help us determine the best way to manufacture it (depending on the complexity). If all you have is a sketch, that’s ok, but eventually we’ll need to get one of our designers involved to model it in the computer to work out the missing details. This exercise may cost anywhere from $500 to a few thousand dollars, depending on the complexity. But we don’t necessarily need this work performed to give you a cost to prototype your idea.
What special requirements need to be considered?
Is your part is expected to carry “loads”? Will it support the weight of another structure or have something else pushing or pulling on it while it’s in use? Then we’ll likely need to help you determine the composite design (ply lay-up) and wall thicknesses. We have engineers that can help with this! If it’s a quick exercise, we’ll probably do it for free during the quoting process. If it’s complicated and involved, we’ll include this cost as part of the quote.
What manufacturing method will be used?
To estimate the cost of your prototype, we’ll need to decide on the manufacturing method and whether we need to create any tooling (mandrels or molds) to make your part. If it’s a simple part like a tube, the chances are pretty good that we’ll have a mandrel in-house, which will save you some money! If we don’t have the mandrel, then buying one for your project may cost $500-1500 depending on the material and the size (diameter) of the mandrel.
What tooling is needed for other shapes?
If your part is more complex in shape, then we’ll probably need to make a mold. The cost of a mold can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity (say, from $3000 - $50,000!). If you have a relatively small part, like a ski pole handle with basic features, the chances are the mold will cost somewhere in the $3000 - $8,000 range.
How do we determine the cost estimate?
Once we have the part and mold designed, the lay-up determined, and the process identified, we’ll be able to figure out how long it will take us to make the part and what it will cost. This will be determined by figuring out how much “touch labor” will be required and whether any other operations like cutting/trimming, sanding, etc., are needed. We will come back to you with the total cost to make your prototype, including design, materials, labor and tooling so that you can make a decision about whether to proceed.
Are there volume discounts?
At this point in the process, we’ll also be able to give you a pretty good idea about what the part will cost in larger volumes. It will undoubtedly be less expensive in higher quantities because some parts of the process may be more automated and because we will have worked out some of the kinks while prototyping. This higher volume cost varies from project to project, but you can usually count on a price reduction in the neighborhood of 10-25% when you’re making hundreds of parts rather than just one.
How long does it take to get a quote?
The timeframe for a custom quote will vary depending on the original information provided, if an NDA is required, etc. This flow chart explains our process..