Global Technologies Racing Ltd. (GTR, Fontwell, U.K.), a specialist designer and manufacturer of high-specification carbon fiber components for Formula 1, Indycar and other state-of-the-art racing and performance cars, has recently installed its second Vapormatt (Taunton, U.K.) wet-blast machine.
The new machine â€“ a Vapormate 3, with a 995-mm by 700-mm by 700-mm processing enclosure â€“ is used for the surface preparation of post-cured parts prior to painting or coating. It joins an existing Vapormate 1 machine with a 700-mm by 700-mm by 700-mm enclosure, which is used for the surface conditioning of carbon fiber surfaces prior to layup and bonding.
Global Technologies Racing opted for the wet-blast surface treatment process following trials by Vapormatt. Both carbon fiber and glass-reinforced plastics are notoriously difficult to bond due to the presence of resinous material on the normally smooth surface. Grease and dust also compromise adhesion.
The Vapormatt wet-blast process uses water and fine abrasives in suspension, delivered by a slurry pump and accelerated by compressed air to the process nozzle, which is normally manually operated (automatic nozzle manipulation is also available for dedicated, repetitive tasks). The action of the slurry scours the surface to create a thoroughly clean and lightly abraded result. The water can be heated and mild detergent added to ensure the effective removal of grease or oil.