/>

Adding lightness with Seibon at SEMA

Most car guys know that carbon fiber is lightweight (and very cool-looking), but most don't know much past that. We stopped by well-known carbon fiber manufacturer Seibon's booth at the 2009 SEMA show to get the skinny on this miracle material.

antuan-roadshow-headshots-jpegs-1893-007.jpg
Antuan Goodwin
SEMA2009_0088.JPG
1 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

What's the big deal with carbon fiber?

Most car guys know that carbon fiber is lightweight (and very cool-looking), but most don't know much past that. We stopped by well-known carbon fiber manufacturer Seibon's booth at the 2009 SEMA show to get the skinny on this miracle material.
SEMA2009_0092.JPG
2 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Wet carbon

According to Seibon, there are two main types of carbon fiber. What we see here is "wet carbon," the glossy type that most enthusiasts are accustomed to seeing.
SEMA2009_0089.JPG
3 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Why wet?

To make wet carbon fiber parts, sheets of carbon weave are laid onto a mold between layers of resin, then cured. Wet carbon parts are lighter than their metal counterparts, but due to their hand-laid nature, are more prone to imperfections.
SEMA2009_0108.JPG
4 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Light(er)weight Lotus

The Lotus Elise is the vehicle that best embodies the "add lightness" performance mantra, which makes it a perfect candidate for carbon fiber parts.
SEMA2009_0106.JPG
5 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Carbon body panels

The Seibon Lotus features all carbon fiber body panels. If you look in the background, you can see Subaru's booth, which we profiled earlier.
SEMA2009_0109.JPG
6 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Okay, just one more...

Less weight means less mass to accelerate, which leads to better acceleration, braking, and handling. It's a triple threat!
SEMA2009_0087.JPG
7 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET
This Nissan 370Z features a wet carbon hood and body panels, as well as a more aggressive front air dam.
SEMA2009_0096.JPG
8 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

While many like to leave their carbon fiber panels exposed for bragging rights, wet carbon components can be primed and painted for a more stealthy look. This Genesis' hood is partially painted.
SEMA2009_0100.JPG
9 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Rigidity without the weight

Carbon fiber is lightweight, but it's also quite stiff. Which means that it's strong enough to be used for parts like this huge wing without shattering, without adding a lot of mass above the vehicle's center of gravity.
SEMA2009_1053.JPG
10 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Dry carbon

The second type of carbon fiber is "dry carbon"--or more specifically, prepreg carbon fiber--which usually features a duller, matte finish. This is the stuff of Formula 1 dreams.
SEMA2009_1052.JPG
11 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

How it's made...

Dry carbon fiber mats are preimpregnated with resin. The parts are formed in a vacuum mold under high heat and pressure. The heat and pressure cause the resin to evenly distribute throughout the part, with little to no waste.
SEMA2009_1054.JPG
12 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Dryer is better

Dry carbon fiber parts are both lighter (less resin used) and stronger (fewer imperfections) than their already lightweight wet counterparts. This S2000's hardtop and fastback need to be light to keep the vehicle's center of gravity low.
SEMA2009_0084.JPG
13 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Nissan GT-R

Back inside at the Seibon booth, we find this Nissan GT-R, which features a dry carbon hood and front lip.
SEMA2009_0128.JPG
14 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Light muscle?

While we typically think of Japanese tuner cars and European supercars as the primary market for carbon fiber, there is an emerging market for carbon parts for big American muscle cars, as well.
SEMA2009_0116.JPG
15 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Chevy Camaro

This Camaro features an assortment of carbon fiber components, many of which are painted, including its hood, fenders, side skirts, and front and rear bumpers.
SEMA2009_0113.JPG
16 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Every pound counts

This carbon fiber trunk lid should shave a few pounds off of the Camaro's heft. A secondary benefit of less weight is slightly improved fuel economy.
SEMA2009_0103.JPG
17 of 17 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Pedal power

Carbon fiber is no new thing to the world of cycling. In fact, road bikes have been using the material for years now. Seibon has recently begun to offer its own bike frames, such as this folding commuter bike.

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 36 best games to play in 2021

More Galleries

Nintendo Switch: The 36 best games to play in 2021

37 Photos
Volkswagen's new T7 Multivan looks awesome

More Galleries

Volkswagen's new T7 Multivan looks awesome

10 Photos
2022 Kia Telluride looks basically the same as before

More Galleries

2022 Kia Telluride looks basically the same as before

18 Photos
2022 Honda Civic: Sharper performance and a revolutionary cabin

More Galleries

2022 Honda Civic: Sharper performance and a revolutionary cabin

69 Photos
Toyota Land Cruiser J300 flagship is now forbidden fruit

More Galleries

Toyota Land Cruiser J300 flagship is now forbidden fruit

17 Photos
2022 Kia Carnival: Boxy is foxy

More Galleries

2022 Kia Carnival: Boxy is foxy

67 Photos
2020 Toyota Tundra: Still thundering along

More Galleries

2020 Toyota Tundra: Still thundering along

39 Photos