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Part 4 of Giant Bicycles Australia 7 part series on carbon fibre manufacturing. Great reading. See the Facebook page for previous episodes and we will be posting the new ones as they are released.
COMPOSITE CLINIC – 4th Edition:
Q: What does the layup process entail?
A: The layup process is the second step in the composite frame construction process, and it’s where the mechanical engineers take over from the chemical engineers. Giant’s mechanical engineers designate really how the bike will ride, and how strong it will be, as well as how light it’s going to be.
The Pre-Preg sheets then go to the Lay-up room, where they are cut into swatches. To handcraft one composite Giant bicycle, more than 500 individual swatches are positioned onto “soft” frames.
Each swatch is a specific shape and size, and they must be precisely positioned by hand around the soft frame according to a “Lay-Up Schedule.” The exact “Lay up” is a top secret schedule determined by Giant’s mechanical engineers. Change any part of the layup, and you change the entire ride quality and structure of the bicycle. Quality control inspections during the layup ensure that doesn’t happen.
You can lay-up a swatch in one direction, and it’s designed to take on a specific form. When you lay-up in another direction, the swatch has high tensile strength. It has less flexibility, but it is more weight-bearing or load bearing.
In the case of Giant’s Advanced SL grade frames, Continuous Fiber Technology (CFT) is employed, using longer, larger – and therefore fewer – swatches of composite in the front triangle. With fewer pieces and junctions, the frames are up to 200 grams lighter, significantly stronger, and have greater vibration dampening properties. CFT is more expensive, and it’s more labour intensive – which is why it’s found only on our top of the line Advanced SL grade frames.
Stay tuned for the 5th edition of Composite Clinic next week!