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Old 09-01-2019, 09:09 AM
JanZ JanZ is offline
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Ocala, FL
Posts: 2
Default Cutting fiberglass cloth

I recently discovered a neat way to cut fiberglass cloth while starting my canopy fairing build. I first downloaded the pdf file for the fiberglass cut templates and transferred them to a national office supply chain for printing. When I got back my five copies, they were "expanded to fit" the page, even though my work order said "not to". Thus they were unusable !

That led me to break apart the pdf drawing into a picture for each ply and then send it to my CO2 laser cutter for cutting the patterns. Vary accurate cut, and relatively easy to do. Then I thought, "why not cut the fiberglass cloth this way." So I smoothed and laid out a piece of 9 oz cloth over the cutout template still on the laser cutter bed and proceeded to cut out the glass weave. Perfect !

There are several nice benefits about this technique:
1) I didn't have to make a separate pdf images for the left and right sides as they are mirror images.
2) The cuts are extremely accurate and fast.
3) We can readily make any number of copies to handle mistakes or
alternate plies.
4) The edges along the cut line are lightly heat-sealed, so no unraveling of the weave.
5) Since no rotary cutter, scissors or razor blades are used, there is no stretching or distortion of the cloth.

Feel free to message me for more info on how.
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Old 09-01-2019, 04:15 PM
tgibbs tgibbs is online now
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Winchester, CA
Posts: 58

That's nifty. I wish I had a laser cutter now
Lancair 320
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Old 09-01-2019, 04:23 PM
BillL BillL is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Central IL
Posts: 5,380

Me too, I have to cut 32 different pieces to make a plenum. I have finally started stacking several layers and lay templates on over the piece and roller cut by hand.

I would love to have them cut with something like that.

I would need a 50 X 50" cutter table though.

Painted 6.11.2020
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Old 09-01-2019, 07:49 PM
Larry DeCamp's Avatar
Larry DeCamp Larry DeCamp is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Clinton, Indiana
Posts: 967
Default One more tip

I recently discovered you can make narrow masking tape 1/4 with razor blade and straight edge. Tape the shape you need on the glass/ carbon. Cut the part down the middle of tape and apply with resin. When, cured or nearly cured, just pull the 1/8 tape off and NO frayed EDGES 👍
Larry DeCamp
RV-3B flying w/7:1 0320 / carb / Pmags / Catto 3b / digital steam
RV-4 fastback w/ Superior roller 360/AFP/G3X/CPI/Catto3b
Clinton, IN
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:27 AM
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DanH DanH is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: 08A
Posts: 9,281

Are there now good laser cutters available in the hobby price range? In particular, a laser able to cut steel as well as glass cloth?
Dan Horton
Barrett IO-390
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Old 09-02-2019, 01:02 PM
AEA AEA is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: so cal
Posts: 32

Thanks for the info. Just curious, what else do you use the cutter for?
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Old 09-02-2019, 02:54 PM
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kentlik kentlik is offline
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Oregon
Posts: 774

Originally Posted by DanH View Post
Are there now good laser cutters available in the hobby price range? In particular, a laser able to cut steel as well as glass cloth?
Here is a cutter with a 12" x 20" envelope Dan.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:40 PM
RFSchaller RFSchaller is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 2,727

I just used a really sharp scissors from a fabric store. Never had any issues cutting fiberglass. I once tried to use Kevlar cloth but gave up trying to cut it.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:14 AM
Pilot8 Pilot8 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: California
Posts: 37

The hobby laser cutters are in the 40 watt range, good enough to cut cloth, paper, leather; not yet to the 200-250 watt range needed for 16 gauge steel.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:39 AM
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tomkk tomkk is offline
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Port Orange, Fl
Posts: 926

Nice clean cut easily and accurately on straight or pretty intricate cuts:
Port Orange, Fl
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