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HomeAircraftHelicopterHelicopter Main Discussion › Is Real Carbon Fiber Used?
11-27-2015 05:06 PM  34 months agoPost 1
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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I have been wondering something for a while. Most kits will use the word carbon to describe the make up of their frames accurately. Others will say Carbon Fiber. But I can't help but notice that most seem to look like carbon fiber on the outside, but are pressed with a composite in the middle. Are we being deceived to think our helis are made of carbon fiber but really aren't. Or does this "sandwich" material of sorts qualify as carbon fiber. I am confused....

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11-27-2015 05:35 PM  34 months agoPost 2
Calil

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Brazil

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Composite with fiber glas and/or carbon fiber is a much improved material.

I hate carbon fiber because of the risk of signal blocking/electric conductivity/fire risk. I much prefer fiberglass, G10 or composite with the minimum carbor fiber.

JMO

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11-27-2015 05:40 PM  34 months agoPost 3
RyanW

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Edmond, Oklahoma

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Great question. Some use "full" carbon plates and other use a composite sandwich as you stated.

Those who use 100% carbon fiber laminate typically will call it out.

As you said, quite a few use the glass fiber inner layers with a carbon outer layer on each side.

Although this is typically seen as a cheap way out, there are some instances where a differential layup is preferred.

I used to design loudspeakers and we had a foam core cone with a carbon/kevlar weave on the outside of the speaker cone and a fine glass weave on the side facing away from the listener. That gave us the right blend of rigidity and damping.

-Ryan
Mikado USA, Kontronik, Opti-Power, MKS Servos

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11-27-2015 08:44 PM  34 months agoPost 4
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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Thanks for the responses. There is a "sexiness" to carbon fiber that gave me some pride in ownership thinking I have a heli made of it, but this confirms my hunch. Disappointing.

...and I could be wrong, but it seems that most of the Asian manufactured helis are pulling this fast one, while the German companies seem to be using the genuine article. Not sure about that though.

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11-28-2015 01:25 AM  34 months agoPost 5
icanfly

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ontario

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Asian manufactured helis are pulling this fast one,
cf has been supplied either with a layer as outer veneer or as 100% even though the core is not weave but milled fiber, that's still 100% cf, There's glass fiber fill, micro balloon fill, glass cloth, glass mat and other things. I've worked with laminates for most of my life and find the best of both worlds is a milled filler with cf veneered skins was best like a good boxed member, and somewhat a little less expensive. Fiber GLASS is heavy and not as stiff as cf and can be a good thing in crashes while absorbing shock, bending, and vibration rather than completely breaking at a weak point, the outer cf serving to stiffen the fg.

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11-28-2015 02:19 AM  34 months agoPost 6
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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Wonder why we're using carbon fiber in the first place. Kits are still really expensive and prices have never come down, but it seems like components are getting cheaper and cheaper. Look at the cost of GF aftermarket frames compared to the fake carbon fiber that costs as much as real carbon fiber should. I think we're being screwed.

What's even more interesting is that I've broken enough premium blades to know what real carbon fiber looks like on the inside. But Gaui and Goblin frames sure as hell don't look like the same stuff when they break.

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11-28-2015 02:51 AM  34 months agoPost 7
ICUR1-2

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Ottawa, Ontario

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Do we really need CF frames
I always wished there were more options to frame components.
Some stuff needs it, some don't.

The side frame for a Protos 500 for example doesn't need to be a CF frame for my flying style and the glass fibre has colours. The big plus is they're less than half the cost of stock replacements.

Another added benefit to after market frames are different configurations
for servos or C/G

spending time, paying attention

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11-28-2015 03:38 AM  34 months agoPost 8
Kevin Dalrymple

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Indianapolis

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Carbon fiber costs are driven by the price of oil because it is a by product. That will tell you why the costs are higher than fiber glass and G10.

As far as signal through carbon, in my business we use Kevlar where radio signals need to pass.

I wish companies make carbon frames properly and with out the added finish coat. Carbon done properly is lighter with out that last coat but then people would think it is not done properly or they won't like the look of it he finished product. It will also separate the professionals from everyone else. Properly done carbon is a work of are and the people who are craftsmen at it charge for good parts.

Synergy Field Rep Rail Blades Field Rep

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11-28-2015 04:00 AM  34 months agoPost 9
jason46

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MI

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I bought a used warp 360, that I think was preproduction model, it has unidirectional carbon fiber side frames.

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11-28-2015 04:00 AM  34 months agoPost 10
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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Cost of oil is really low.....but the savings never seem to be passed on to the consumer so companies happily stick it in their pocket and hope no one puts two and two together. Something how that works. Guess I just wish there was more truth in advertising. Heck, look at the Protos V2 Max. They incorporated plastic into a great design and managed to offer a quality 700 for a great price. I hope that is the way of the future. These $800.00-$1200 bare bones kits that don't even offer the genuine article are really getting old.

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11-28-2015 04:11 AM  34 months agoPost 11
Tyler

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Chicagoland area

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Making helicopters out of carbon fiber and other "sheet" materials is profoundly less expensive than machining molds for high quality plastic frames and parts.

Every time a manufacturer desires to make a change in layout or design, drawing and cutting sheet goods saves time and money compared to quality plastic molding options. Plastic molds are 3 dimensional and very expensive, not something you redo often.

In recent history the great plastic fantastic machines remained unchanged for many years, and the high end plastic models were NOT cheap.

Then along came the sheet stock helicopters that received upgrades, updates, and even complete make overs nearly every year.

We, as hobby consumers financially fueled this marketing strategy of, "newest, latest, greatest". We also bought into the hype that carbon was "better".

Too bad there are not more great plastic models around...

Mikado
Hirobo
Thunder Tiger and several others.

Enjoy things that money can buy IF you don't lose the things money can't buy.

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11-28-2015 04:57 AM  34 months agoPost 12
ICUR1-2

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Ottawa, Ontario

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somehow CF got equated to 3D performance

Can't have 1 with out the other said every 3d wanna be

spending time, paying attention

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11-28-2015 03:42 PM  34 months agoPost 13
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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Interesting spin on the plastic frames. I like the frames that are two piece with metal cross members that give it rigidity. Bearings are easy to remove and it is cheap cheap cheap to replace. Thunder tiger helis were built on that foundation and the Raptor has to go down as one of the all time favorites and most popular rc helis ever. The plastic has some built in dampening too and I think plastic adds to the smoothness of the heli in flight.

Another thing I don't get are torque tubes. I have them but belt driven tails seem to be so much better, inherently. The belt has dampening, doesn't strip out gears, lasts a long time, and doesn't have to be perfectly straight to work. I never understand the love of TT tails.....even thought that is all I have at the moment. A belt with a tensioner driving the tail can't be beat.

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11-28-2015 08:29 PM  34 months agoPost 14
oldfart

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Vancouver, Canada

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I think that rigidity of the helis frames, through hard maneuvers, is a big plus in RC helicopter design. It benefits everything from consistent gear meshing (specially in the tail drive systems) to better bearing life etc in the clutch and OWB systems, to better gyro performance.

Many years ago, I discussed this with a top world flyer who was part of a design team for a top brand. He told me that I would be surprised to find out what is the most rigid material for plate types of side frames.

He suggested I test for myself, by getting three plates, all the same size (e.g. 300mm x 80mm by 2mm), one from the type of 6061 aluminum most heli manufacturers used before the popularity of C/F, the other from G10 and and the third from pure layered Carbon Fiber sheet. Then to clamp the first 80mm of the length of all three to my workbench. Then hang the same weight to the end of each and to measure how much they flexed.

The one that flexed the least (by a big margin)surprised me - it was the least expensive of the lot - the aluminum! Next was the C/F plate and last was the G-10.

When I later talked to him about it, he just smiled and said it was all in the marketing. As C/F had became the "hot" marketing word, aluminum was abandoned as the manufacturers could sell these type of frames and associate parts for 300% more, even though the difference in the cost was only about 30%. Far more profit in it.

Phil

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11-28-2015 08:59 PM  34 months agoPost 15
RyanW

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Edmond, Oklahoma

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I wouldn't say it is all marketing hype. CF plate is on the average just shy of half the weight of aluminum.

CF doesn't tend to crack like we almost always got with the old nitro helicopters (especially when the 80 and 90 sized engines came on the market).

Another biggie is that aluminum side frames would bend slightly and you would never know it. Bearings would start wearing out, clutch stacks wouldn't be smooth and the crown gears would strip. You would disassemble the uncrashed machine to find the side frame was tweaked.

CF typically is either good or bad. If it is cracked, replace it. If not, it is good. I say typically because you can have inner layer delamination, but that isn't not common.

G10 is really nice because it is not conductive, but it is not near as lightweight at CF.

I have always thought there was a good balance between plastic, metal and composite materials to be found on our machines. I really like a good plastic design that absorbs some of the vibrations. Unfortunately there are not many people who do plastic right. I remember a few designs many years ago that had a great combination of CF frames, machined aluminum bearing blocks on the drive train components and plastic components on the upper mainshaft bearings. It was one of the smoothest machines around!

-Ryan
Mikado USA, Kontronik, Opti-Power, MKS Servos

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11-28-2015 09:07 PM  34 months agoPost 16
Tyler

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Chicagoland area

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Not all tail belt systems are created equal. Try some autos with a Goblin or Mikado helicopter. Torque tubes became popular simply for the fact that they tend to auto rotate better, of course this is my opinion.

Nobody does a tail belt drive system better than Hirobo. They auto great, both the 50 and 90 sized, with great tail authority and efficiency.

On a side note, belts do need adjustments throughout temperature/seasonal changes, but the modern concept of built in tensioners would eliminate this old school point of maintenance.

In my opinion, one of the best torque tube systems of all times has been the Align T700N.

Anything less than a 600 should be belt drive because gears must be too small and fragile to dig in the dirt.

Enjoy things that money can buy IF you don't lose the things money can't buy.

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11-29-2015 12:40 AM  34 months agoPost 17
Noobyflyer

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Clearwater, FL

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I completely agree Tyler.

Good point about the cracking issue Ryan. Carbon fiber does have an inherent design of being completely honest visually, when it comes to assessing damage. That is probably the biggest downside to plastics...that and it's lack of heat resistance, often melting or warping in the sun. Plastic can hide cracks.

I get a kick out of people saying how good or bad a heli crashes. These things have so much kinetic energy, when they come in contact with earth, nothing can absolutely absorb impact without being tweeted somewhere somehow. I do like how some manufacturers are putting R&D into having established week points to break away, in a sense, to protect the more valuable parts of the frame and electronics. Industry has come a long way, if only they would use true carbon fiber and decent grade alloys across the board. It is tough to decipher what is actual quality in some of these high end kits. The machining and tolerances are fantastic these days, but it seems that margins are being driven by charging the same, but cutting material costs here and there....

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11-29-2015 10:20 PM  34 months agoPost 18
oldfart

rrProfessor

Vancouver, Canada

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[quote]I wouldn't say it is all marketing hype. CF plate is on the average just shy of half the weight of aluminum.[quote]

If one doubled up on the thickness, they would then be the same weight as the aluminum frames, yet would still be only half as rigidity!

[quote]CF doesn't tend to crack like we almost always got with the old nitro helicopters (especially when the 80 and 90 sized engines came on the market).[quote]

If anyone would experience any cracking, it was usually an indication of a misalignment in the power system, usually between the clutch/motor into the clutch bell. Of course the bigger. more powerful the engines, the more important that became

[quote]Another biggie is that aluminum side frames would bend slightly and you would never know it. Bearings would start wearing out, clutch stacks wouldn't be smooth and the crown gears would strip. You would disassemble the uncrashed machine to find the side frame was tweaked.

CF typically is either good or bad. If it is cracked, replace it. If not, it is good. I say typically because you can have inner layer delamination, but that isn't not common.[quote]

I always found it easy to tell if any aluminum frames I ever had were tweaked after an "event". This would usually cause some sort of vibration that would show itself in a different sound in hover (a squealing of a bearing),in a foaming of the fuel, or in a vibration in the tail fins.

[quote] G10 is really nice because it is not conductive, but it is not near as lightweight at CF.[quote]

And way to flexible to make it worthy for use in helis designed to do hard maneuvers

[quote]I have always thought there was a good balance between plastic, metal and composite materials to be found on our machines. I really like a good plastic design that absorbs some of the vibrations. Unfortunately there are not many people who do plastic right. I remember a few designs many years ago that had a great combination of CF frames, machined aluminum bearing blocks on the drive train components and plastic components on the upper mainshaft bearings. It was one of the smoothest machines around![quote]

Yes, there are many different types of plastic for molding frames. A PROPERLY designed and molded fuselage that uses a properly reinforced (C/F or F/G or Kevlar other such materials) and type of plastic can certainly result in a very stiff and relatively light mainframe.

On the other hand, a poorly designed mainframe made from the wrong type of GRP can be very flexible with bearing seats and other critical areas that stretch permaturely, causing many issues.

Unfortunately, most of the past "marketing hype" made most people getting into this hobby look down on the use plastic, not knowing that properly executed, it could be the best material to use.

Overall, the best material would not be to use a Carbon Fiber PLATE design, but to use a properly designed molded frame, molded from a Carbon Fiber composite. (this is used in the deigns of many racing machines.)This would result in having the most rigid and lightest frame, Unfortunately, such a molded carbon fiber frame would be very expensive.

Phil

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