Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Can I lacquer or clear coat 3M™ Di-Noc™ Carbon Fibre Vinyl?

Several times each month we are asked if it is possible to apply a clear coat or lacquer to 3M Di-Noc Carbon Fibre Vinyl which has a textured finish much like a true dry carbon fibre.  The first option that comes to mind is to apply a clear vinyl on top of the carbon fibre vinyl but while this is possible the effect is poor as when the clear vinyl is applied on top it takes on the texture of the Di-Noc™ below giving an orange peel effect.

The next option is to apply a spray on lacquer but unfortunately this also takes on the textured finish on the first few coats.  If however you spend some time building up four or five coats the lacquer becomes flat and, assuming you are working with the Black Carbon Fibre Vinyl, gives the vinyl a deep gloss black shine.  This is the effect many people are looking for as it matches the look of carbon fibre parts that are commonly available on the market, typically body panels that are made from fibreglass and have a carbon fibre sheet laid on top before being lacquered.

If this is the look you wish to achieve with the 3M™ Di-Noc™ Carbon Fibre Vinyl it seems that it may be possible.  We are unable however to advise on the longevity or quality of the finish you can expect from this approach as the official guidance from 3M™ is a little sketchy - see below, nor are we a paint shop so lacquer is not something we're familiar with.  I suspect that 5 coats of lacquer may be quite brittle and as such might not stand up to the type of small impacts that would typically cause stone chips on a painted surface or small bumps that would cause a body panel to flex.  Interior use of lacquer and Di-Noc™ Carbon Fibre Vinyl could well be a safe bet though.  I have spoken to an employee of an Aston Martin / Jaguar dealership who claims they sent 50 cars away to have a number of dash panels wrapped and lacquered.  I can't imagine that a prestige car dealership would do this to brand new cars before selling them if there was any doubt as to the suitability of the products being used, however I've not seen any photos of this work and have only the employees word that the job was commissioned.

What do 3M say about clear coat?
Di-Noc Carbon Fibre can be clear coated with 3M Gloss Clear 1920 but the results may not meet your needs or expectations. We recommend testing and approving each type of film before specifying it in a job.

With that in mind it is our advice that anyone considering applying lacquer or clear coat to 3M™ Di-Noc™ Carbon Fibre Vinyl treats the job strictly as a test project to see what happens.  It's probably best to start small and work up to larger and maybe exterior panels.  If you can, seek advice from an experienced paint shop to find out what products are most likely to be suitable.  If you get 12 months out of the finished job hats off to you but be prepared for it all to go wrong.

Have you successfully lacquered 3M™ Di-Noc™ Carbon Fibre Vinyl?  If so we'd be interested to hear from you about the type of job and products used.  Even better if you have some photos.

Update 10 February 2011 - We sent some samples to a very high profile company last week and they have sent them to their paint shop to test clear coating the carbon vinyl. We will post another update when we hear back to show how they get on.

Update 28 March 2011 - Ok so I forgot to update this post in February.  The company we sent the Di-Noc™ samples to was the Renault F1 Team and the guy we were dealing with wanted to trial the vinyl to see if it would work as an easy carbon fibre look for a display board.  The sample was sent to the paint shop where it was hit with a coat of regular lacquer.  Our contact reports that the vinyl took on a deep gloss shine and looked really good.  Interestingly they also tested a cheap carbon fibre vinyl and when lacquered it took on a 'muddy' effect.

Since then we've heard from a few customers who had a go at clear coating the vinyl with some reporting good results but others that the vinyl looses it's detailed pattern.  Our conclusion is therefore that a professional painter should be capable of clear coating 3M Di-Noc Carbon Fibre Vinyl but if you want to do it yourself with a can of spray from your local parts store the result may not be what you are hoping for.

Update: New glossy carbon fibre vinyl from 3M™
If you want an easy way to get a gloss carbon fibre vinyl take a look at the new 3M™ Series 1080 Carbon Fibre Vinyl

Update November 2011 - We've heard about a black gloss carbon fibre vinyl in the 3M™ Di-Noc range but it seems like it may be a 3M™ USA product as 3M™ UK don't have it listed on their system.  We'll make some calls and see if we can find out more.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Underground Graphics on Max Power's Project Slide

Max Power needed a set of sponsor decals for their Project Slide Yaris in time for the Modified Nationals Show and being pleased with the 'Max Power FTMFW' decals we supplied a few weeks earlier the boys at the UK's largest modified car magazine placed a call to us and the job was on.

We caught up with the boys from the magazine at the Scottish Modified Show in Edinburgh but didn't realise there was an article in the magazine until a few text messages started arriving when it came out a few weeks later.  A quick blast to the 24hr BP Station and there it was - you can just make out the Underground Graphics logo on the bumper just below the driver's headlight.

Article from the September 2010 issue of Max Power.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Carbon Fibre Bonnet Wrap

Carbon Fibre Vinyl is perfect to create a Carbon Fibre Bonnet Wrap. This is illustrated above by the photo from Sunny from Kustom Carbon.

Small vehicles are the easiest for a DIY carbon wrap as the vinyl can cover the full bonnet and the most difficult part is trimming it to fit.

How to Join Carbon Vinyl

With larger cars like the Toyota Supra it gets more difficult to wrap the bonnet as the vinyl used here is 3M™ Di-Noc™ which is manufactured on a roll 1220mm wide and the Supra bonnet is larger than this.

There is a lot of talk on car forums about techniques to join wheets of carbon fibre vinyl so that the pattern still matches. The propper name for this is a Butt join and is achieved by laying two sheets of carbon vinyl on top of each other, taking care to ensure the pattern matches. Cutting through the overlapping area allows you to remove the excess from the top and bottom the vinyl should join up perfectly with the carbon fibre pattern still matching.

There are two issues with this when doing vehicle applications.  You can't go cutting vinyl when it's in place on a car as this seriously risks damaging the paintwork and even if you did, temperature changes will make the vinyl creep very slightly which opens up the join to water, dust and polish which are likely to start working their way under the vinyl causing it to lift.

On large bonnets we therefore recommend using a technique similar to Sunny's where a design is created that flows with the lines of the car. In the case of the Peugeot above Sunny worked along the lines on the bonnet leading to the headlights, following this down onto the grille and lower bumper.

UPDATE 27-02-2010: 3M™ have now released their new Carbon Fibre Vehicle Wrapping vinyl, it's called Series 1080 and is available in several colours and also features air release channels for virtually bubble free installation.  Importantly it's 1524mm (5 foot) wide allowing a bonnet to be wraped in a single sheet of vinyl.

Carbon Vinyl Fitting and Installation

If you want carbon vinyl fitted to your car and are based in Leeds or West Yorkshire give Sunny a call on 07592 279 776.

New Carbon Fibre Vinyl Websi

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Carbon Fibre Laptop Skin

Give your laptop or netbook a stunning new look with a sheet of genuine 3M™ DI-NOC™ carbon fibre vinyl.

Easy to apply with a bubble free finish and easy to remove if you ever want to change it.

Carbon Fibre Laptop Skins and Carbon Fibre Netbook Skins can be purchased from the Underground Graphics website at

Carbon Fibre Laptop Skin Installation Photos

3M™ DI-NOC™ Carbon Fibre Laptop Skin ready to be fitted to Samsung Laptop.

Carbon Fibre Skin part installed.

3M™ DI-NOC™ Carbon Fibre Skin installed on laptop

3M™ Carbon Fibre Vinyl conforms perfectly to the curves at the edge of the laptop.

Close up showing the Laptop Skin formed round the edges of the screen.

Samsung Laptop with Carbon Fiber Skin side by side with genuine Asus VX2s carbon fibre laptop.