How do you begin making a carbon fiber monocoque..
1) Justify doing it!! Is the heaps of extra time, money, and testing worth it? Will there be substantial weight savings? Is the extra stiffness necessary? How stiff is stiff enough in torsion and in bending? Is time better spent pulling weight out of something else? One FSAE school finally got their CF chassis squared away after 5 years of development, and their car still weighs over 500 lbs. Ours, with a steel tube chassis, is 460.
2) Understand all the rules of your race series with respect to how much of the chassis can be CF, if anything still needs to be steel, etc.
3) Become well-versed in mechanics and practicalities of composities. Weave vs uni, different weights, effect of ply orientation and size, effects of different resins (polyester vs epoxy vs whatever), ultimate strength, elastic modulus, etc. One FSAE school estimated a torsional rigidity of their drive case of something like 7000 ftlbs/degree, and it wound up being 700 ftlbs/degree. Ooops!
4) Make sure you can find carbon fiber. This past year there was a severe shortage to the point most composites places in the US could only get carbon for their top-priority defense contracts.
5) Determine a good, SOLID way to mount all your suspension etc pickups. Figure out the exact position of everything in advance. Not like a steel chassis you can weld on tabs as you go, its all gotta be set in stone in advance.
6) A good CAD program would be nice. CATIA's industrial licenses are $45,000 a piece, but it can do all sorts of different composities stuff with ply layout and orientation, etc.
7) Design the thing. You dont 'convert' tube chassis to carbon ones. Spaceframe geometry is laid out by completely different rules, triangulation and usage of space which is needed for rigidity. Carbon is a different ballgame. Its geometry driven.. figure out all your pickup points, for the seat, suspension, engine, etc. Flesh in from there.
9) Fabricate molds. TAKES A LONG TIME. If you can break it down into chunks and machine them out on a large 3- or 5- axis CNC mill, you will save yourself a lot of time.
10) Layup, and hope you did it right.
That's how I'd go about doing it. But I'm not a composites guy.. just another engineer.
Grip is a four letter word. All opinions are my own and not those of current or previous employers.