Composite Carbon/Glass Fiber Plaque

Facility: RI Mobile Maker Lab (RI MML)

Program: Introduction to Composite Technology

Instruction: Seth Wiseman (

Technician: Chase Reynolds (

Intern: Sam DiGasper (

Program Description:

Targeting three hours of experiential learning, students will produce single, custom coasters plaques. Utilizing a laser cutting machine or desktop CNC, students will personalize a piece of wood sheet stock. Students will then back-wet the plaques with epoxy and reinforce them with fiberglass and carbon fiber. These fiber-reinforced pieces will be vacuum sealed in consumer-grade kitchen storage bags and cured overnight. Due to time constraints, the composite-reinforced pieces will require some light finishing to be done in the student’s Advanced Manufacturing class.


Students should come to the Lab with personal brand ideas, symbols, patterns, etc.


*Note: The intent is for students to work concurrently at the stations below. At some point throughout the process slowdowns & bottlenecks may occur requiring patience & teamwork.

Course Learning Outcomes:

  • Ability to translate design ideas to physical form

  • Ability to utilize CNC router, laser cutter and composite technology

  • Understanding of the vacuum bagging process

  • Understanding of the need to identify & solve problems for product development & fabrication

  • Understanding of complex manufacturing processes & work flow

  • Understanding of composites technology (benefits, drawbacks, workflow, applications, etc.)


Station One: Plaque Carving

Technology: Laser Cutter, “Carvey” Desktop CNC router


Description:​​ Students will create designs for production with either a laser cutter or CNC router. For the CNC router, students will use Easel by Inventables, a cloud-based software used for controlling the “Carvey” CNC machines also produced by Inventables. Mobile Maker Lab staff will be available to assist and troubleshoot. As this may be many students first experience with vacuum bagging, students should be prepared for experimentation & prototyping.


Station Two: Glass & carbon fiber preparation

Technology: Glass & carbon fiber, scissors, tape


Description: Students will use scissors to cut out swatches of fiber. Each student should cut out a swatch of both glass and carbon for each side of the plaque (4 swatches total, 2 glass, 2 carbon). Before cutting, students will use painters tape to cover the cut lines, this prevents the fabric from fraying.  Mobile Maker Lab Staff will be available to assist and troubleshoot.


Station Three: Fiber lay-up

Technology: Glass & carbon fiber, epoxy, hardener



After preparing their fiber swatches, students will lay-up their composite reinforcements. This process begins by back-wetting the wooden plaque and all layers of fiber reinforcement with epoxy. The layers are then assembled in a carbon-glass-plaque-glass-carbon structure.


*Note: Mobile Maker Lab staff instruct students to use proper safety equipment, in this specific workshop, students use disposable protective gloves, eye protection, and are working in a well-ventilated area.

Station Four: Vacuum Bagging & Curing

Technology: Standard consumer-grade vacuum sealer & bags



Once laid up, students will bag and vacuum seal their plaques. This process removes air bubbles from the composite material, as well as applying uniform pressure throughout the plaque.

Multi-Step Flower Fabrication

Composite Carbon/Glass Fiber Plaques


Packaging & Branding

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