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I'm trying to make a panel that will replace this crappy diamond plate (as seen in the photo below). I would like to make something that is flush with the dash, this has been troubling me for some time. I thought be best option would be to CAD a part and then have it machined or printed, but that would be difficult given the 3D curvature of the dash, as well as costly.

I thought laying fiberglass would be a pretty easy way to make a rigid part that matched the curves. And from there I thought it would be fun to use Kevlar (I'm a Kevlar fanboy from using Kevlar rope in a lot of climbing gear).

What would I have to do to make a Kevlar panel that matched the curvature of the dash? Is it as simple as laying a layer to match the curve, and then building on it from there? Or would I have to use some sort of vacuum to get the layers to set properly? Would it be easier to use fiberglass?

I'm a college student, so my resources are limited to a (very nice) collection of hand tools. enter image description here

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    Fiberglass would be a lot easier than Kevlar ... but I'm wondering if you are actually thinking of Carbon Fiber? Carbon Fiber is used quite often in doing what you are talking about (including vacuuming it), but I guess if you are looking for a bullet-proof dash, the Kevlar would work just fine. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 27 '15 at 21:35
  • I would like to avoid vacuuming... can I do that with carbon? – Sponge Bob Jan 27 '15 at 21:45
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    Absolutely. The only time they use vacuum and heat on carbon fiber is when it is a structural piece which utilizes heat activated resin to cure it up solid. Carbon fiber sheets are a bit more expensive than fiberglass, but it lays down about the same. You can cut it with scissors, form it, glue it, let it cure, then do final shaping on it. Plus it can look cool in the "natural" form, or you can just paint it the same as your dash. This Google Search may help you. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 27 '15 at 22:01
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    I thought this article from Hot Rod Magazine did a pretty good job of explaining how to lay down some CF for a small part. It should give you some ideas. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jan 27 '15 at 22:07
  • @Paulster2 Thanks for the info. I go to an aerospace school and the only time they lay carbon is in a super fancy oven vacuum thing, so I thought that's how it always had to be done. Looks like a great article, thanks! – Sponge Bob Jan 27 '15 at 22:12
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Fiberglass would be a lot easier than Kevlar ... but I'm wondering if you are actually thinking of Carbon Fiber? Carbon Fiber is used quite often in doing what you are talking about (including vacuuming it), but I guess if you are looking for a bullet-proof dash, the Kevlar would work just fine.

I would like to avoid vacuuming... can I do that with carbon?

Absolutely. The only time they use vacuum and heat on carbon fiber is when it is a structural piece which utilizes heat activated resin to cure it up solid. Carbon fiber sheets are a bit more expensive than fiberglass, but it lays down about the same. You can cut it with scissors, form it, glue it, let it cure, then do final shaping on it. Plus it can look cool in the "natural" form, or you can just paint it the same as your dash. This Google Search may help you.

I thought this article from Hot Rod Magazine did a pretty good job of explaining how to lay down some CF for a small part. It should give you some ideas.

Could I apply a parting wax directly to my (plastic) dash and use it as the template, or should I try to make a mold out of something else? Also, carbon is very pricey compared to kevlar/fiber. So if the process is identical, I think I'll use kevlar or fiberglass. Carbon is $60/m wheras fiberglass is $5.

I don't know if you are looking to cover the hole (make it flush) or if you are going to create a plug, or possibly just replace the plate?

Carbon Fiber is a bit more expensive than fiberglass, that's for sure. There is just something about fiberglass I don't like, lol! Fiberglass would work just fine for what you want to do though. I mean, it isn't structural support you are looking for, just trying to fill the hole, right? As far as Kevlar goes, you'd probably want to paint it after you're done, because (IMHO) it's just plain ugly in its natural state.

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