Creating your own Carbon Fibre body armour

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Corona, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    So after crashing one of the BMW 2012 GS Challenge bikes head first into a tree which totalled the headlight and instrument cluster I have been thinking about how I was glad I hadn't been skewered by the branch.

    Now I have the Forcefield chest armour (http://www.forcefieldbodyarmour.com/product/race-lite-chest-protector/2351) which is great for absorbing impact but not preventing penetration of sharp things.

    With that in mind I decided to make an over lay for the Forcefield which I could take on and off as required.

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    Forcefield chest armour.

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    First of all I created a template out of cardboard.

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    I then cut out the cardboard and covered it with cling film (Sarin wrap) to prevent the epoxy resin sticking.

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    I then bent the cardboard to the required shape to fit my chest and used tape to ensure it kept its shape.

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    I then cut out three layers of bi-axial 440 g/sqm e-glass.

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    I then layered it up with SP Systems 106 epoxy and once cured remove the mould. I then cut the shape out using a Dremel and a tungsten carbide blade.

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    I then attached velcro to the back.

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    Image of it attached to the Forecefield.

    I then had my house mate stab me with a kitchen knife and punch me in the chest with some motorbike gloves. It all worked perfectly so I decided to create a final version out of carbon.

    The e-glass version weighed about 280 grams and cost around 4 UK pounds in materials. As the weather was cold here I had problems with the epoxy curing nicely and I ended up with many dry spots and air bubbles in the layup. I will avoid this in the final version.
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  2. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    [​IMG]

    First of all I measured out the required fabric using my template.

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    Make sure to protect your very expensive carbon fibre by using masking tape to secure the warp and weft when you cut the bolt.

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    I will be using three layers this time. Layer one 1 x 200 g/sqm plain weave carbon, Layer 2 1 x 330 g/sqm high modulus tri-axial carbon fibre, Layer three 1 x 200 g/sqm plain weave carbon

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    The wrap on the mould for the e-glass prototype created a terrible finish which was very resin rich. This time I coated the cardboard with PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol) to allow for an easy release.

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    To get round it being rather cold in the UK, to help increase the fluidity of the epoxy and to speed cure times I setup a heatgun with temperature sensors.

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    I then built the layup again with SP systems 106 epoxy and used the heatgun to ensure full wet out. I then squegeed out the excess resin.
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  3. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    [​IMG]

    I put the layup on top of my boiler to give it some extra heat while it cured over night.

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    The next day it had reached a workable cure.

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    I trimmed the excess fabric off.

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    I used some pliers to grab the edge of the cardboard and with a hard yank it released nicely.

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    I covered the presentation side with masking tape to protect it.

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    I filed the rough areas on the rear and then took wet and dry sand paper to it to create a matt surface for the velcro.
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  4. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    [​IMG]

    Time to remove the protective tape.

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    Shiny, shiny.


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    Add the velcro but this time vertically as it prevents it peeling off when you pull the plate off side ways.

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    And your done! Looks nice, weighs about 180 grams and is rock solid.
    #4
  5. AceRider01

    AceRider01 Fully Loaded

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    +very nice - wish i have the skills

    + well done
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  6. drm

    drm Been here awhile

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    Looks good. How does it wear inside a jacket?
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  7. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    It wears pretty good. I think I will have to make it a closer fit if I want to also fit it under my sports bike leathers.
    #7
  8. DriveShaft

    DriveShaft Long timer

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    Is carbon fiber known to be effective at that kind of stuff? I always thought of it as kind of flaky wrt point loads.
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  9. dbg326

    dbg326 Been here awhile

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    I do have one concern. I may be wrong, but doesn't CF shatter/splinter into some nasty pieces when subjected to a hard enough impact? I have no first hand experiences though... that being said, beautiful work!
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  10. 32x20

    32x20 Been here awhile

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    How many plies do you have? It looks cool...but think about using Kevlar/aramid in a second go-round. I doubt it'd be any more expensive and would be much more effective at puncture resistance. Carbon shards can be seriously sharp & painful (guess how I know).

    #10
  11. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    I do have Kevlar available but I decided not to use it. It has a greater resistance to wetting and is more prone to de-lamination. The main reason however is I hate working with it. It wrecks your tools and is a right pain to cut and shape finished pieces to get a smooth edge.

    The carbon is on top of the Forecfield which will absorb allot of energy on impact. My thinking is if I hit something hard enough to smash the carbon with the energy absorption capabilities of the forcefield then I will be dead anyway and splinters won't worry me :eek1

    One concern I had was projectiles being deflected upwards towards my neck so I was thinking of adding a reverse retaining lip to prevent this. Maybe in a follow on version ...
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  12. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    Oh and here:

    Layer one 1 x 200 g/sqm plain weave carbon
    Layer two 1 x 330 g/sqm high modulus tri-axial carbon fibre
    Layer three 1 x 200 g/sqm plain weave carbon

    The strength is in the tri-axial core with the plain weaves to give a better finish and cover the axial fabrics stitching.

    It weighs around 180 grams in total.
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  13. 32x20

    32x20 Been here awhile

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    Yeah, if you have hit something hard enough to splinter the carbon you've probably got bigger worries.

    Kevlar is a PITA to work with, but those properties that make it tough to work with sure help with energy absorption. I've had pretty good luck cutting the finished kevlar plate with a bandsaw...you don't get as many 'fuzzy edges' as with knives.
    #13
  14. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fartografist

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    +1 for the efforts, goal and steps taken + the original idea.

    Like any good home-made or self-made farkle, it may take a couple prototypes till you are ecstatic with it, but your buddies will thank you for the earlier versions as gifts.

    I think you are onto something.


    Even just the cardboard and some tape is better than nothing. You went way beyond!

    Mad skills brother, mad skills.

    :deal
    #14
  15. kingby

    kingby Adventurer

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    Is there any way this could slide up? Looks like it could come up to the armpits and neck in a get off. Not the areas you want sharp edges coming at you. I would trim it down significantly (away from the vulnerable areas) and try to soften the edges. They look sharp.

    Most of the commercial stuff I have seen has more flexible plastic hard parts, sewn soft armour around the edges and a smaller "footprint" away from these areas for a reason.
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  16. Corona

    Corona Dreaming of Dreaming

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    I did think it over lapped the edges of the Forcefield by a little too much. I will think about how to make a smaller one.

    To put my mind (and some of the forum members minds) at rest I have just built a material sample with the same layup and construction techniques as the breast plate. I will test it to destruction once it has cured.
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  17. kingby

    kingby Adventurer

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    If you could make the breast plate at about 75 or 80% of the size of the forcefield with the same shape, that would give you a nice soft perimeter around the plate with the hard protection at the centre where you need it.

    Also a better bond between the Forcefield and the breast plate would ensure any movement would be as a system and there would be a soft edge impacting first.
    #17
  18. L.B.S.

    L.B.S. Long timer

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    I would definitely make it a little bit smaller, and for sure put some moulding around the edges.

    Like visors on hockey helmets, they can protect superbly from direct impact, but they can also cut the sh*t out of you from sliding down or flexing and then hitting soft parts. That is what I would be afraid of more than splinters in a really big impact, is the thing getting pushed sideways/up/down and having the edge do a nasty slice 'n dice.

    If I was bothering to do this (great idea and awesome job, by the way!) for sure Kevlar would be used, or at least a kevlar/carbon mix twill.

    :freaky
    #18
  19. Iron Rey

    Iron Rey Wingnut Extraordinaire

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    FWIW, Carbon fibre is good for a lot of things...But not everything
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  20. seniorasi

    seniorasi Banned

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    Is there an impact test your future????
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