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Evolution of Corvette Body Components

Evolution of Corvette Body Panels

This guide identifies the many types and sub-types of Corvette Body “fabrics,” and related manufacturing processes used for OE Style production, aftermarket reproduction and custom parts for Corvette Body Components.

Gel Coating

Gelcoat or 'Gel Coat' is a material used to provide a high-quality finish on the visible surface of a fibre-reinforced composite. The most common gelcoats are thermosetting polymers based on epoxy or unsaturated polyester resin chemistry. Gelcoats are modified resins which are applied to moulds in the liquid state.

Chopper

A Chopper Gun is used to automatically chop and deposit fiberglass gun roving strands or carbon tow strands into a mold or composite part. The Chopper Gun makes it easy to quickly cover large surfaces with fiberglass.

Closed Mold SMC Compression Body Panels

Sheet molding compound (SMC) or sheet molding composite is a ready to mould glass-fiber reinforced polyester material primarily used in compression molding. The sheet is provided in rolls weighing up to 1000 kg. ... SMC is both a process and reinforced composite material.

TruFlex Fiberglass Body Panels

When comparing TruFlex fiberglass bumpers with original urethane bumpers you will find the TruFlex bumpers are not as flexible as urethane. TruFlex fiberglass and urethane are two distinctly different compounds, therefore it does not flex like urethane. The TruFlex bumpers give the customer the durability and longevity of fiberglass while allowing for some flexibility in fitting and absorbing minor impacts. TruFlex is a specially formulated resin which links a urethane molecule to a stable polyester base that is formulated from the beginning to be both flexible and tough. If you are looking for the "original" look of urethane, TruFlex bumpers may be the answer.

The advantages of ACI's traditional fiberglass bumper is that you can achieve a crisp straight look on the car, waive free forever. These bumpers and our TruFlex bumpers may require some fitting to achieve a perfect fit.

Hand Laid Fiberglass Body Panels

Hand laid Corvette Body Panels are laid up in a mold by hand. These parts have a smooth exterior finish and have a rough texture on the inside.

Hand laid fiberglass is woven fabric layered and soaked in polyester of epoxy resin. This creates a very stiff, strong, and light material. The reinforcement is placed by hand and then saturated with resin by either manual or mechanical means.

Hand lay-up is a molding process where fiber reinforcements are placed by hand then wet with resin. The manual nature of this process allows for almost any reinforcing material to be considered, chopped strand or mat. Similarly, the resin and catalyst blend can be manipulated to allow for ideal processing conditions. Single sided, typically composite tools are used for this process. Hand laid fiberglass parts normally have one visible, smooth side. A gel coat can be added during molding to produce cosmetic finished surfaces.

Hand Lay-up Molding Process
Hand Lay-up Molding Process

Press Molded Body Panels

A press molded part is one that has been made from a sheet of fiberglass and resin that is pressed into a female mold by a male mold. The resulting part is smooth on the inside and the outside , just as GM originally made it. If you are restoring your Corvette and want that restoration to be as close as possible to the way it was originally manufactured.

RTM Resin Transfer Molded Body Panels

RTM is a vacuum-assisted, resin transfer process with a flexible solid counter tool for the B-side surface compression. This process yields increased laminate compression, a high glass-to-resin ratio, and outstanding strength-to-weight characteristics. RTM parts have two finished surfaces.

Resin Transfer Molding Process
Resin Transfer Molding Process

Polyurethane

Most Corvette bumpers are made of this material. It sands to a powder, does not melt when subjected to high-speed grinders, and is easy to repair. PUR (Polyurethane Plastic Rigid)

Please Note:

Upon receipt, all fiberglass body panels, bumpers, spoilers, hoods, fenders etc must be checked for fit. The nature of Vintage Corvettes and perhaps prior repaired Corvettes is that there is normally some fitting, grinding or filling necessary to make new part fit older cars.

This is especially true when replacing a urethane bumper or panel with a fiberglass part. The urethane, by nature, is more flexible and can form itself to compensate for cars which may be slightly out of spec.

The fiberglass part may require more hand fitting and filling to achieve a good fit. Mold lines and small imperfections may be present. This is normal and is not considered a valid reason to return a part.

Also, parts which have been modified or painted by the customer or their body shop are not eligible for return. If you are employing a body or paint shop, please make them aware of this.

If you have questions, please call prior to ordering. We will be glad to assist you in finding the proper Body Panels and related parts for your Corvette.

All Fiberglass Body Panels will require sanding & priming prior to painting.