Cutting Carbon Fiber Laminate (also known as carbon fiber sheet, veneer, panel, plate)
Carbon fiber sheets can be cut with standard tools, ranging from scissors and razor knives for thinner sheets, to abrasive cutting wheels and dremel tools. For cutting many carbon fiber/carbon fibre veneer sheets, we recommend the use of carbide tools, abrasive type cutters, or diamond crusted tools. Regular steel tools will cut carbon sheets just fine, but due to the abrasive nature of all carbon sheets, standard tools will wear down fast with heavy cutting use. The carbon fiber panels are easily edge sanded by hand or belt sanders allowing the fabricator to trim close and sand to final dimensions for a smooth, clean edge. (See our Products page for additional information and recommended tools for each panel thickness.)
Carbon fiber dust is not toxic, however, it is a mild irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs, much like fiberglass. We do recommend that fabricators wear gloves and a dust mask to minimize any itching or irritation, especially when cutting or sanding in quantity.
Carbon fiber sheets can be cut by machines to make difficult cuts and repeatable designs. Many people use CNC machines to cut carbon fiber panels, but at times it can be difficult to hold the carbon fiber sheets in the machine. Water jet machines are used for complex, intricate shapes, or high volume parts manufacturing. Our 3M high performance adhesive can be applied BEFORE water jetting your carbon fiber parts, as the water will not harm the adhesive, leaving a nice clean edge on both the carbon fiber sheet and the adhesive. (We recommend that you check with your local sheet metal fabricators or machine shops if you want to water jet your carbon fiber parts.)
Carbon fiber panels are generally not heat formable -- a finished sheet cannot be heated to hold a curved shape. You can get a limited amount of permanent curvature in one direction with high heat (over 200F), but due to the difficulties of this, we do not recommend it. Carbon fiber laminates will not stretch like plastic. Molded parts can be made, but the carbon fiber must be placed in the mold prior to heating/curing process.
Several users have reported successfully installing our carbon fiber veneers with adhesive sheets on mufflers and exhaust tips, however we have not tried this ourselves and can't advise it or make any specific recommendations for applications over 200F. You are welcome to experiment with heat, but be advised, it is totally at your own risk.