Carbon fiber wrap is the newest trend to hit the markets. But what is it, and how does it compare to genuine carbon fiber? We answer some frequently asked questions about the latest innovation for customizing almost everything.
In this article:
- What Is Carbon Fiber Wrap?
- How Do You Use Carbon Fiber Wrap?
- Is Carbon Fiber Wrap Real Carbon Fiber?
- Does Carbon Fiber Wrap Look Real?
- How Does Carbon Fiber Wrap Compare to Real Carbon Fiber?
- What Are the Benefits of Carbon Fiber Wrap?
What Is Carbon Fiber Wrap?
Carbon fiber wrap or vinyl wrap is a textured film or sticker emulating carbon fiber. Some manufacturers offer vinyl that closely imitates the look and texture of carbon fiber. However, this adhesive-backed film doesn't have the same properties and is dramatically less expensive than the real thing.
What Is Carbon Fiber Wrap Used For?
As the name suggests, you can wrap almost anything with it. Carbon fiber has quickly become one of the most sought after products on the market. But the costs involved in making carbon fiber pieces and parts are difficult to come by and requires quite a bit of technical know-how. Besides, many people like the look of carbon fiber but don't need the structural benefits, so instead, they use carbon fiber wrap.
Some of the most popular uses are automotive, from spoilers and hoods to car interiors. Other uses include:
- Smartphones cases
- Kitchen cabinets
In short, you can use carbon fiber wrap on virtually anything the adhesive sticks to. The better material allows you to apply heat and conform it around shapes, curves, and corners.
Is Carbon Fiber Wrap Real Carbon Fiber?
There are a few companies that tend to be vague about what they're producing. And some even claim it's just like the real thing but for a fraction of the price.
The truth is, it's not carbon fiber. Essentially, it's a vinyl sticker with a printed carbon fiber pattern.
On the other hand, carbon fiber sheet or laminate is a genuine carbon fiber.
Does Carbon Fiber Wrap Look Real?
The newest generation of carbon fiber wrap looks pretty realistic. Wraps come in a variety of weave patterns and finishes that mimic real carbon fiber.
Notably, quality does make a difference. The high-quality vinyl wrap looks similar to carbon fiber, as does high-gloss or epoxy gloss finishes.
While vinyl wraps do come close to the real deal's aesthetics, some people claim that it doesn't have the depth of carbon fiber. Regardless, high-quality carbon fiber vinyl wrap may fool a casual observer, and in some cases, even a connoisseur.
How Does Carbon Fiber Wrap Compare to Real Carbon Fiber?
When comparing real carbon fiber parts and a carbon fiber wrap, the cost is one of the distinctions. Carbon fiber parts are much more expensive.
For instance, a carbon fiber hood can cost upwards of $1500, whereas you can wrap a small car for roughly the same price. In other words, wrapping will give you the carbon fiber look for a fraction of the cost of buying real carbon fiber parts.
Another difference is availability. Carbon fiber parts can be hard to come by. But with vinyl wrap, you don't have to worry about finding a specific component since you can wrap almost anything.
However, carbon fiber vinyl wrap doesn't have the same qualities in terms of performance. It adds more weight but doesn't provide much structural or strength benefits.
Lastly, it's much easier to work with a carbon fiber wrap. The film is similar to applying a sticker, making it relatively easy to take off and change.
What Are the Benefits of Carbon Fiber Wrap?
Vinyl wrap is one of the most innovative things to hit the customizing world in years. It adds an aesthetic distinction that you can't get from anything else.
It also gives you some versatility. For example, when painting a car, you must completely redo it if there are mistakes or you don't like the hue. Using vinyl, however, is reversible. So, if you don't like the look or want a new look at some point, you can peel off the wrap.
Although it doesn't offer much structural benefit, it does add some protection from scratches and regular debris. Furthermore, some vinyl wraps are durable and can last upwards of seven years.
Finally, besides affordability and usability, it's also easy to clean and maintain.
Ask yourself what the purpose of the carbon fiber will be. For weight, strength, and performance advantages, only the real thing will suffice. But in general, wraps are a great alternative if you like how carbon fiber looks but don't need the structural benefits or the price tag.