Working with Carbon Fiber

Hello everyone, I’m new here…happy to be a part of the community.

we are setting up our 4x8 machine to cut carbon fiber sheets. Do you have any information on that? Do we need coolant? What type of dust collection system should we use? (HEPA filter)

Any other suggestions are appreciated as well.

Carbon fiber dust is extremely hazardous. Companies who cut it tend to put the machines in separate highly filtered rooms that move the whole volume of air through the filter every few minutes in addition to very good dust extraction. Operators usually have to wear protective gear as well. They do all this because no matter how good your dust collection is, some dust and chips will still escape. That dust is abrasive and hazardous to your skin, eyes, sinuses and lungs.

I have also seen people cut carbon fiber and other hazardous stuff in a viscous oil bath so there is never any dust. You just have to figure out how to deal with the oil when it comes time to change it out.

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That is very similar to CNC routers used for cuting out circuit boards (thats basically fiberglass panels). Very nasty stuff. Those machines are usually fully enclosed units with their own dust extraction. I would not rely on just a dust boot and dust collector like most do for cutting wood.

I would listen to ThinkboxTech on this one.

Carbon fiber is evil “poop.” It will dull your blades, ruin anything with ball bearing that aren’t properly sealed. It will get in your lungs and give you serious health issues.

I would advise cutting it like fiberglass, submerged in a bath of mineral oil. I would NOT use a vacuum system because even a HEPA filter is at best 95%.

Waterjet is a better process IMO.

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Thank you for the help here, that’s all great advise.
What about tooling board cutting? The AVID should be a good tool for making molds for composite parts.
I guess the question is aimed at dust collection, I’ve been considering the Oneida Mini-Gorilla Portable Cyclone Dust Collector. Does any one have any other recommendations, or experience with Oneida?

You mean cutting foam for carbon fiber and fiberglass layup? Sure! When my poor machine isn’t poking rivet holes in sheet 2024 and 6061 it spends the other part of its life cutting foam blocks for all sorts of aircraft components.

Yeah, a good dust collection scheme would be paramount.

2 things: dust collectors with good filters and high static pressure. Also, ensure your enclosure has make up air.

Second, and most importantly: GET PARTICLE COUNTERS and pay attention to them. I recommend at least 4. 2 in the room, 1 in the enclosure, and one right near the filters from the DC.

I’d also speak to oneida about whether their filter media can handle the dust.

If I were doing production work in CF sheet, I would have a dedicated machine in a dedicated room.

All that said, my experience is that it is pretty easy to cut.

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Thank you for this detailed response.

FYI: I have abandoned the Carbon Fiber idea for the moment. But, I spoke with the Oneida representative and the filter is suitable for Carbon Fiber dust.

He recommended the 3HP V-System 3000 55 Gal. SMART Boost Dust Collector as a minimum suitable dust collector for CNC work. Apparently the SMART Boost is very important for CNC work.

I think I was being upsold to a degree but I’ll give it a shot and let you know how it goes.

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Take what they said with a pile of salt. If all you needed to properly contain carbon fiber dust was an Oneida dust filter, there wouldn’t be an entire industry around protective equipment and systems to manage carbon fiber dust from machining. It would probably suffice for very occasional carbon fiber work if you were extra careful with your own PPE and cleaning afterward.

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Agreed. I was specifically asking about the Oneida filter media being able to handle CF dust
“I’d also speak to oneida about whether their filter media can handle the dust.”