Carbon Fiber Aging/Fatigue in Cars

  • Thread starter Michael88
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So today I heard something interesting - that carbon fiber fatigues and ages very quickly compared to a lot of other synthetic materials. Which made me wonder if anyone knows more about this topic - would racecars and sports cars using carbon fiber tubs, suspension arms and monocoques become unraceable or undriveable after only a couple decades, even if they were stored and not driven? I mean, in a lot of cases replacing those huge parts would be extremely difficult if not impossible, molds and CAD files would get lost, manufacturer support would stop etc.
 
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I've read a lot of conjecture on this topic, but there seems to be very little verifiable quality information on it. But CFRP is only as strong as the resins that hold it all together. Some of those are not even UV stable so the material does degrade over time though some of it is better than others.

I've read that the Ferrari F50 has a 10 year tub inspection protocol to make sure there is no de-lamination, degradation, etc but I have never seen something officially from Ferrari that explicitly requires it.

I wouldn't want to be driving a carbon tubbed car very hard after 15 or 20 years and I wouldn't want to be riding an early carbon bicycle in the year 2024 either.
 
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If you store it in good conditions it can probably last a very long time. The aging process of the material depends on what environment it’s exposed to, and fatigue should be minimal (or none) if the car is not used.
 
Basically depends on the conditions it is exposed to, especially if unpainted composite is exposed to lots of UV light. There are aircraft that have been flying around made of carbon fiber for over 30 years now after all.
 
I've read a lot of conjecture on this topic, but there seems to be very little verifiable quality information on it. But CFRP is only as strong as the resins that hold it all together. Some of those are not even UV stable so the material does degrade over time though some of it is better than others.

I've read that the Ferrari F50 has a 10 year tub inspection protocol to make sure there is no de-lamination, degradation, etc but I have never seen something officially from Ferrari that explicitly requires it.

I wouldn't want to be driving a carbon tubbed car very hard after 15 or 20 years and I wouldn't want to be riding an early carbon bicycle in the year 2024 either.
A F50's tub is likely inspected for any issues whenever it's in for a service b/c tmu, the tub can keep going without replacement until something is found, rather than some claims it needs to be replaced every 10 years. I think that time frame is mixed up with the fuel cell that does need to be replaced at those intervals.

Trying to find anything from Ferrari on it is how different stories come out. Some say Ferrari won't touch the tub til' they inspect it at the factory & others have reported that Ferrari may not have any tubs left b/c the company that built them has been out of business.
 
Thanks for the interesting comments - I remember someone from the automotive sector (cant remember who, sadly) saying that cars like the McLaren Mp4 Senna drove should never be raced (exhibition races etc.) because of how bad the carbon aged. Maybe the bonding material they used in the early carbon days wasn't as good as the stuff we have today I don't know. But that got me curious. It would be sad to see the current generation of racecars not getting track days in the future like the old aluminum space and tube frame racecars do.
 
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Thanks for the interesting comments - I remember someone from the automotive sector (cant remember who, sadly) saying that cars like the McLaren Mp4 Senna drove should never be raced (exhibition races etc.) because of how bad the carbon aged. Maybe the bonding material they used in the early carbon days wasn't as good as the stuff we have today I don't know. But that got me curious. It would be sad to see the current generation of racecars not getting track days in the future like the old aluminum space and tube frame racecars do.
I'm not sure I would put a whole lot of stock into that comment. McLaren still owns 3 of the 6 chassis, Honda has 1 themselves, & there's 2 under privateers, iirc. If the factory & Honda have still allowed their examples to go to Goodwood for exhibition runs, I would assume they would do so only if they believe the cars are still in operable conditions.

The downside is these cars rest as museum/heritage pieces most of the time anyway, so if the factory did decide the car can no longer be ran due to fear of the carbon's aging, I don't think it would make a noticeable difference for enthusiasts since the cars are rarely ran.
 
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