Carbon Fiber concerns

edited December 2012 in General
I have read that carbon fiber does not rust or rot but is very vulnerable to UV rays and will not last long in sunny places (as little as 3 years before dulling and starting to degrade), and it will not dent but it will shatter. Are the older roadsters starting to have body panel problems? Supercars are only concerned with weight and looks and are pampered. Normal cars are usually left in sunny parking lots all the time and need to be more durable... hmmm was it really wise to use such a flimsy material? Carbon fiber can not be repaired so will we have to be replacing disintegrating body panels every few years? very pricey...


  • edited November -1
    Paint protects the resin used in carbon fiber from UV degradation.

    It is true that carbon is a very rigid material. Under high loads it will crack or shatter (not dent). I don't have personal experience with carbon fiber on a commercial vehicle, but I've worked with composites extensively on the Iowa State solar car project over the past four years.
  • Does the paint Tesla use completely block out all UV? What is the lifetime of the paint? Can a regular bodyshop buy and properly apply the UV blocking paint when it does wear off?

    Is the carbon fiber used by Tesla omni-directional strong? Some carbon fiber is stronger than steel in one direction but brittle from another angle... some people with very expensive carbon fiber bicycles will shatter components if they are stressed in a fall or crash and that is at slow speed compared to a high performance car...

    When you do shatter your body panels or windows when you are in an accident or your car is broken into, where do you get replacements? Telsa only? OEM?
  • edited November -1
    Model S has aluminum body panels. Not Carbon Fiber
  • edited November -1
    I have a Porsche with extension CF. No issues. A clear finish on CF is just as durable as painted CF. The finish is UV protective and the CF is unharmed.

    It seems that some people here are not used to cars with out of the norm material. CF is great. Personally, it would be great if the entire car was CF. However the cost would be incredible.

    Just a note - if CF was not a good option, then why would cars in the 6 figures and higher have more CF than normal production autos? Do you think that Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati, Bugatti, Lamborgini or the others would use this product if it wasn't reliable?
  • FogFog
    edited November -1
    carbon fiber can now be made super light and pretty strong. in the early days, there was a pretty good learning curve. the amount of energy it takes to crack or shatter carbon, would make toast out of other materials.
  • edited November -1
    The Roadster's body panels are CF! So delicate ...

  • Thanks for the feedback. My Mera has a fiberglass body that is light, rust free and good looking but very fragile so my experience with this kind of material is not good in the durability arena. Newer CF may be a lot better so that is why I ask. From what I read the price is going down so it will likely be plon the new Roadster and to greater extent on X and S 2.0
  • edited November -1
    Carbon fiber and fiber glass are two different materials. Carbon fiber is far stronger than fiber glass. Also very light.

    Recently I saw a bicycle made of carbon fiber (or at least I think it was carbon fiber) at local exhibition about camping, cycling, etc.. It was incredibly light, about 1.5 kg entire bike including tires and chains. I could hold it at air with my pinky. It felt unreal. Apparently it was real bike but it was not for sale (or at least price was not visible). Made me think about future with carbon derivates everywhere (nanotubes, fullerenes, graphene...).
  • edited November -1

    Yet another reason not to be burning petroleum. It's future potential for other purposes is probably much more valuable.
  • Agreed David...

    I am very curious about the durability of modern CF, yes it holds a lot of promise especially for EVs but heard a lot of less than favourable things about CF hoods and fins. My guess is that the price will drop so we might see CF on a S 2.0 or new Roadster.

    Yes I know Model S is mostly aluminium but this is the General Forum so I posted it here...
  • edited November -1
    Wouldn't count on a the price of carbon fiber production dropping dramatically any time soon...
  • edited November -1
    100% carbon-fiber bicycle frames have won every Tour de France (and most other bicycle road races) for at least 10 years. They are highly stressed, available in every bike shop in the country, and quite reliable. However, there is no carbon fiber on the Model S except the interior trim option. This is a non-issue.
  • edited November -1
    It is potential issue for someone buying Roadster. This is general forum after all.
  • edited November -1
    The carbon fiber isn't directly exposed to the rays. Like Evan said, the paint protects that from happening.

    After all this, I think a Roadster would be just as strong as your current vehicle with metal or aluminum body panels, just lighter.
  • edited November -1
    As you guys know carbon fibre is used on F1 cars and has allowed many drivers to walk away from 300kph crashes. It is plenty strong and can be woven to flex one way but not another. Perfect for engineered components.

    The reason carbon fibre is so $$$ is that with the exception of BMW's M3 roof, I have never seen an automated process for its manufacture. Seemingly it is all essentially hand made.
  • edited November -1
  • edited November -1
    Questioned about a "carbon fibre engine". Heh. I'm sure it would burn!
  • edited November -1
    Probably... the resin is almost surely flammable. Just goes to show that there is a time and place for everything including carbon fibre.

    Actually I found an interesting appendum to this conversation:

    Essentially it sounds like the OP's question is twofold; how long does carbon fibre last and how strong is it. We have the answer to the latter question. The former is more interesting. I did some reading and found that carbon fiber (and fiberglass) may become delaminated for various reasons. (Although in fairness I haven't read about any such issues with the Roadster.)

    The summary appears to be that in instances where bonding of the laminated layers is poor (due to poor resin adhesion and distribution) delamination is more likely to occur. Since we are rarely privvy to the carbon fibre manufacturing process, visual and "sound" inspections may help identify faulty CF components.

    So... buy your carbon fibre from a reputable manufacturer, and test it (as a consumer) by tapping the panels. :-)
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