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Carbonfiberskin.tk’s DIY Carbon Fiber HTC EVO Skin Review

Carbonfiberskin.tk offers a pre-cut, sharp-looking carbon fiber skin for the HTC EVO 4G’s back cover for $25. Not a bad deal, but they also offer a ‘DIY’ option for a mere $5- that looks like it would fit a lot of things nicely! The question is “How easy is it to install and customize?” I ordered one in just to answer this burning question.

The company offers free S&H for either options, so I plunked down my $5 and got a plain business letter-sized envelope in the mail a few days later with a 5″ x 3.5″ chunk of self-adhesive black ‘basketweave’ pattern carbon fiber vinyl. It feels great to the touch, but feels more like a textured shelf paper than what I would expect real carbon fiber to feel like. There were no directions enclosed, but they are on the site.

Rough-trimmed skin and EVO battery cover

The site directions are not illustrated, and perhaps not as clear as they could be in a few places. The overall process is not hard- peel the backing, stick it to a clean battery cover, heat gently with a hair dryer, smooth into place, cut off excess with a new, sharp-tipped Xacto knife, sit back and admire.

Of course, there are a few minor roadblocks in the real world. The untrimmed cover is bigger than you really need so you can trim off almost 3/4″ from the end- and I suggest you use this little chunk for practice if you are unsure of your mad skillz. I made a minor tactical error in trying to have as little excess as I could on two sides- it is best to leave a little bit of a margin all the way around.

Battery cover laying on skin

Heating and smoothing was easy- my industrial hot air gun did it nicely but I am sure your puny little civilian hair dryers would work as well. The back conformed nicely to the mild contours of the EVO. I let it cool a bit then started the trimming.

Stuck in place, before heating

My new Xacto blade was sharp enough that if I was not careful, I was shaving plastic off the battery door, but several techniques quickly developed. I was able to stick the blade tip in my cutting mat and slide the cover along it, almost like using a band saw. Using it like a whittling knife to carefully slice off little bits took care of the few imperfect cuts I made.

Trimmed and holes cut out- you can see the roughness of the speaker holes.

Cutting out the interior holes was easy, especially since I could access them from the back. The speaker holes, however, are a pain. The site suggests poking them with a needle and warms they often close up from the heat and pressure of your pocket. Poking them from the inside left a rough patch on the cover. Poking them from the inside a little and then using a bigger pin from the outside helped a bit- but the adhesive sticks to the needle and smears. A small application of heat smooths the cover again, but closes up most of the holes. I tried a hot needle and it only worked a little better. You may choose to just use a template and cut a circle around the speaker holes and peel the carbon fiber covering off.

Elapsed time- something under 10 minutes of actual work, a little more time experimenting with various techniques. Satisfaction rating- a lot higher than I’ve had with a lot of pre-cut things that are so frustrating to align perfectly. Durability- time will tell, but it feels good so far.

Finished!

Could you do it on other devices? I think so, as long as there is not a lot of contour and you can get to where you need to make cut-outs. I’d like to try it on my laptop’s lid and around the keyboard if I could get the film at a good price. I assume it will not conform around the lip of the lid, but it should work on the flattish areas nicely.

 

Product Information

Price:$5.00
Manufacturer:Carbonfiberskin
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Looks sharp!
Cons:
  • Instructions are not the best

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • John February 2, 2011, 11:25 pm

    This is a product made by 3M called di-noc film. I’ve used it to cover trim on my car and it’s held up to wind rain heat and even snow without any problems. It’s not terribly expensive and available online.

  • Mark Adkins February 3, 2011, 5:03 pm

    @ John- Thanks for the tip! I have found several colors and sizes for nice prices on eBay. These are part of what 3M calls the ‘Architectural Finishes Series’- the ‘carbon’ pattern. The series also includes several other finishes that look interesting, like leathers. Cool, thanks!

  • Mark Adkins March 15, 2011, 10:06 pm

    FOLLOW-UP: There are a couple minor nicks on the edges of the film that make it less than perfectly smooth. I’d still love to find some of the other films in this series- leather or wood would be great.

    Otherwise, I am surprised by how new it still looks after almost daily pocket carry.

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