Car modification used to be a lengthy, expensive process, especially if you were changing the body of the vehicle. Adding a body kit or a ground effects kit meant sanding and priming the body of the vehicle and the parts, installing the parts, and then doing a custom paint job to make the new body kit look like it was always there since the car came out of the factory. With the advances in technology, though, other options make some of the old ways of car modification outdated. Carbon fiber, in particular, is changing auto customization in ways we never would have thought possible.
Carbon fiber is primarily used for car modification in the form of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, custom-molded parts made to fit a particular car. CFRP, as it’s called, is extremely durable and lightweight. In fact, carbon fiber is lighter than fiberglass, meaning your mods don’t have to add as much extra weight to your car. Carbon fiber is also extremely durable and rigid, whereas fiberglass is durable but not very rigid; carbon fiber is less likely to dent than fiberglass. The downside, though, is that carbon fiber cannot be repaired; if a part gets cracked, the whole part has to be replaced.
Another downside is that carbon fiber is much more expensive than fiberglass right now. Making long strands of carbon fiber is a very difficult manufacturing process, and the technology required costs quite a bit of money to implement and operate. In time, though, we can probably expect the costs to come down considerably, as the technology matures and becomes more popular.
Because of how carbon fiber kits are made, there is often no painting required. Carbon fiber can come straight out of the mold in whatever color you want, allowing a quick and easy match to your existing car’s body. This means the installation and finishing time for installing that new hood or ground effects kit can often be cut in half, or even more, since all that is required is attaching the new kit to the car.
Carbon fiber is also used with much success in vinyl wraps, providing an edgy and unique look to a car without changing it from its original state. You just wrap the car with your own artwork, and the wrap can easily be removed if you want to take the car back to stock. Custom artwork on wraps is becoming a very popular way to update a car without changing the stock paint job of the vehicle.
Being able to install a body kit or ground effects package without needing to repaint the entire vehicle is a major change in how car modification used to work. If you have the money for the parts, carbon fiber accessories can give an excellent appearance to your car straight out of the box, and the price of carbon fiber is bound to drop sometime. These changes might even make customization more popular than it already is, since repainting a vehicle is the most common customization that DIY’ers try to avoid.
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Last Updated: August 17, 2015