Carbon Fiber Body Panels is when some of the exterior body panels of the vehicle or the entire body are made from carbon fiber
instead of sheet metal or regular plastic.
Carbon fiber body panels are used on performance oriented vehicles because they are approximately twice as rigid, significantly
stronger but is much lighter than panels made from steel and is also more rigid, stronger and lighter than aluminium panels.
Carbon fiber body panels are lighter than steel or aluminium body panels. Reduced weight will increase performance as the engine
will have less weight to carry and it will get better fuel efficiency.
This piece of graphite textile is basically useless. It is very strong but is flexible just like regular cloth. To transform
the carbon into a permanent and useful shape the cloth is placed in a mould of the desired shape and then coated with a resin or plastic
that becomes very stiff when it dries (hence the term reinforced plastic).
Carbon fiber body panels can also have a visual benefit and can advertise that car to be performance oriented as carbon fiber
does not have to be painted like metal parts.
Carbon Fiber also called carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) is a composite material that is used for several purposes in
and out of the automotive industry.
The process in making carbon fiber starts with very thin strands of carbon (thinner than hair), the carbon strands are then
twisted together like thread and then the threads are woven together like the process of making cloth, this cloth is called a graphite
It is common for many supercars and formula one cars to have entire carbon fiber bodies. Other sport
oriented vehicles may have a combination of carbon fiber body panels and other body panels.
Common panels to be made of carbon fiber are the bonnet, trunk, bumpers and aerodynamic
parts. The roof such as in the BMW M3 is also made of carbon fiber.
One downside to carbon fiber body panels when compared to metallic body panels is a lack of flexibility. For instance a metal
bonnet can be heated and straightened or welded if it is slightly bent or cracked.
Carbon fiber will not bend, once the force of impact is large enough it will crack or break and repairing it in most cases is not
Carbon fiber can be recycled but it loses its strength. Steel and aluminium can be recycled and become just as strong and useful
as it was before.
There are many aftermarket carbon fiber body panels and other parts available to accessorise a vehicle to gain a performance
benefit or for styling purposes.