How to Cut Carbon Fiber Tubes

Cutting Carbon Fiber tubes

There are a lot of things to consider when cutting carbon fiber tubes: cutting tools, finishing materials, PPE, dust collection, etc. Dust collection is the major concern. Particles and dust generated while cutting carbon fiber tubes can be relatively dangerous if proper care is not taken. Like many other fine particulates, in the right condition, carbon dust can be explosive. Proper dust collection will greatly reduce this risk.

Also, take care around electronics; the conductive nature of carbon can easily fry nearby computers, laptops, and other devices. With this in mind, ensure proper precaution is taken prior to making your first cut. It may be worth covering or moving any devices in the area.

Cutting carbon fiber tubing can be difficult. If done incorrectly, the tube can be damaged beyond repair in the blink of an eye. This article will break down the steps on how to cut carbon fiber tubes.

If you would like us to cut the tubes for you, contact our sales team of carbon fiber experts for an estimate.

Materials Needed:

  1. PPE: Safety glasses, dust collection, hearing & respiratory protection.
  2. Cutting: Diamond coated abrasive cut-off blade.
  3. Finishing: Sand paper or other abrasive surfaces

Cutting Carbon Fiber Tubes:

There are many ways to cut carbon fiber tubing. Whether you use a chop saw, tile saw, or hand held cutting tool, follow these simple steps to assure a clean cut every time.

  1. Choose the right blade for the job: 

    This is the most important part. When cutting composites, it is ideal to use a diamond coated abrasive cut-off blade rather than a toothed blade. Teeth can catch the fibers and tear the material resulting in splintering or delamination. 
    1. Thicker tubes may generate enough heat to re-activate the epoxy causing the blade to “gum-up”.
      1. To prevent “gumming”, cool the cutting surface/blade. Using a segmented blade will help reduce heat. Another option is to actively cool by using a wet saw.
         
  2. Support the tube:  

    Supporting/bracing the tube (properly) is crucial to achieve a clean cut.
    1. To ensure a square cut, brace the tube against a straight edge or dam that is the proper angle you desire.
    2. An unsupported tube can result in a “burred” edge. This is caused by one side of the tube moving before the cut is finished.
      1. Burrs are typically found on the “drop” section. If multiple sections are being cut out of a tube, it is crucial to support and brace both the cut end and the drop end of the tube.
         
  3. Clean the edge: 

    The cut edge may have burrs and/or fibers remaining on the tube. To clean-up the edge, spin the cute edge on a piece of sand paper or other abrasive materials

 

 

 

Cutting carbon fiber tubes can be tricky. However, if you follow these three simple steps you will achieve a clean, concise cut every time. It is important to choose the correct blade, support/brace the tube, and touch-up the final cut. If you have any difficulty, feel free to reach out to our team of experts; we are here to help.

 

 

Common Issues When Cutting Carbon Fiber Tubes

  

 

We often get questions on how to cut carbon fiber tubes. Cutting carbon fiber tubing can be difficult if done incorrectly. Today we will show you 3 comm

on issues and the best way to avoid/fix them.

 

  1. Delamination: Delaminating a carbon fiber tube 

    Delamination often occurs when cutting unidirectional tubing. Individual filaments or tows tear away from the rest of the composite.​

Fix: Slow down, take your time while cutting the tube. Let the material grind away at its own pace. Do not force the blade through the tube. If you are still having issues, try using a thinner blade with finer grit.

 

  1. BurringOverheating a carbon fiber tube

    Burring occurs at the last second of cutting. This is due to lack of support/securing one, or both, ends of the tube. The carbon fiber tube begins to break away as the final filaments are cut.

Fix: Secure both ends of the tube. Use a weight or clamp to ensure minimal movement throughout the cut.

 
 
  1. Overheating

    How to prevent burring when cutting carbon fiber tubesOverheating is often result of intense friction. It is often occurs when cutting thicker walled carbon fiber tubes. The resin reaches its TG and begins to flow.

Fix: Reduce heat. Here we have a few options. Either slow down to reduce friction or use liquid as a coolant to keep the heat down. If you are cutting multiple tubes it may save time to use a wet saw.

 
 
  1. (Bonus) Fraying:

    When cutting aramid or carbon/aramid hybrid tubes the cut edge is often "fuzzy". Aramid is a difficult material to cut, it is very tough. The Fuzz is result of the aramid tearing instead of cutting.

    Fix: After cutting “touch-up” the tube with sand paper. It may not be a perfect edge but it will help.
     

Though there are many other problems you may encounter when cutting carbon fiber, these are the most common. We have been cutting carbon fiber tubing for years, and have experienced every issue you can think of. If you are having trouble feel free to reach out, we can help.

 

Contact Us