Carbon Fiber Wheels – Not the Ultimate Performance Material

 

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NEW UPDATE: Carbon Fiber Racing Wheels

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Now you must be asking yourself WTF is with the title of this post? While carbon-fiber is definitely an amazing lightweight and strong choice material for re-engineering many performance parts it is NOT the ideal material for wheels. WHY? Simply because of flex. And in carbon-fiber parts there is little flex due to its material characteristics

Carbon Fiber has the highest specific tensile strength of all the reinforced materials (also called composite materials), and it has a high strength to weight ratio and low coefficient of thermal expansion. The density of carbon fiber is also much lower than the density of steel.


These carbon-fibers are then weaved into an application specific matrix (pattern) which yields a cloth like material which is then layered with an epoxy (thermosetting epoxide polymer) that cures to create that sexy shiny and beautiful Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) that we all love to see on modified and exotic cars. 😉

So for now enjoy these wheels which are engineered with a carbon fiber shell, you might marvel over some tuners which will undoubtedly manufacture an entire carbon-fiber wheel, but it will be pretty much only used for show cars.

Carbon-Fiber is just to damn stiff to be THEE ultimate material for wheels. Wheels need some flex and because of carbon-fibers high specific tensile strength there is little room to negotiate flexibility. When you exceed a full carbon-fiber wheel’s tensile strength the wheel will fail. Unlike current alloy wheels when the carbon-fiber wheel fails it will basically explode (not explode explode) but will fail and be destroyed and useless to the point that you will not be able to drive on it as you would with simply a bent alloy rim.


So what does science have in store? Well for starters the global science company (specifically the Engineering Polymers Division I work for) is already successfully developing and testing 14 inch ATV wheels made from 100% reinforced engineered polymers – pure plastic. As you can imagine ATV wheels are used and abused more than automobile wheels. These new space aged resins are engineered with all the requirements needed to create the lightest possible wheel while still remaining flexible to handle the abuse on a track or street. Stay tuned, literally! 🙂

German specialist WheelsAndMore have engineered wheels that are customized individually for supersportcars like Ford GT, Shelby Cobra, Porsche GT3 RS, Lamborghini Gallardo Superlegerra, Audi R8 and comparable.




2 Piece carbonwheels – Megalight Forged Series

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According to WheelsAndMore this is a must have for optimizing the weight from sportscars. Using carbon rims with ultralight forged centers, which are adapted to the axle weights of each car, allows a weight under 10lb/rim combinated with titanium screws.
This innovation comes from 18-23″ in all bolt circles possible.

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Wheelsandmore states that the 20-inch version of their beautiful and military advanced carbon-fiber / alloy wheel weighs 6 kg or about 13.2 lbs. That’s compared to 18 kg or approx 40 lbs of a standard same-size alloy wheel. But nothing comes for free as a set of 20-inch Megalight Forged Series wheels cost $29,000 USD.


Related Carbon Fiber Posts
Carbon Fiber Wheels

[Source: WheelsAndMore.de, WikiPedia.com]

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27 Responses to “Carbon Fiber Wheels – Not the Ultimate Performance Material”

  1. Vinay said on February 14th, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Excellent Article, Anthony

  2. Nissan GT-R Spec V - Faster than PAGANI ZONDA F? | CarZi said on April 9th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    […] Spec V is said to be making extensive use of weight-saving materials like carbon fiber, dropping its curb weight by a reported 330 pounds or more. Couple that savings with the addition […]

  3. Ferrari 599 GTB by EDO Competition | CarZi said on April 23rd, 2008 at 9:57 am

    […] lip spoiler adds the finishing touches to downforce stability. All these new parts are made of carbon fiber and reduce the weight of the car by 50 […]

  4. The Engines said on May 10th, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Wow, nice wheels. I am sure they are much lighter than alloy.

  5. Nissan R35 GTR Modified by Wald International | CarZi said on September 1st, 2008 at 1:38 pm

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  8. Carbon Fiber Wheels | CarZi said on October 1st, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    […] In this pre-pre carbon fiber construction method the fiber is pre-impregnated with resin at a production facility, rolled on spools, and frozen to prevent the resin from curing prematurely. This raw material is then cut and hand laid into a mold to the proper thickness and cured via vacuum packing and high temperature curing which melts the glass resin which flows and hardens in the shape of the parent mold. Need a refresher into the Science of Carbon Fiber? Checkout my earlier post on the subject: Carbon Fiber Wheels – Not the Ultimate Performance Material […]

  9. jan d williams said on October 25th, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Gopod article. But, there are flexible CF used in fishing poles, golf clubs, etc. So, why not a combination of different CF to gain the flexibility needed for CF wheels?

  10. Brabus Tesla Roadster Pictures & Specs | CarZi said on December 18th, 2008 at 7:53 am

    […] customization package for the Tesla Roadster includes special high-quality matte white paint job, carbon-fiber air inlets, BRABUS perforated lightweight leather and Alcantara, BRABUS carbon fiber rear wing and […]

  11. Anthony Carbone said on December 22nd, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    @jan d: its all or nothing with carbon fiber. It doesn’t flex, nor do the parts they manufacture, carbon fiber is meant to allow for super rigid lightweight parts.

    It currently cannot be easily modified (the carbon fiber cross mesh that gives its uber stiffness embedded in the epoxy resin which encompasses it) to give it the desirable exact flexibility you would need in a tire.

    However within the next 5-10 years, scientific advancements in molecular material science and their manufacturing will be able to allow the creation of very large specific parts from the ground up using carbon nano tube designs. ~rise of the machines~

  12. Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S | CarZi said on December 22nd, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    […] that will be stitched up with Alcantara leather in addition to new trim options, meaning LOTS of Carbon Fiber everywhere. No price has been released just yet, but we can certainly expect something much more […]

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  15. Carbon Fiber Wheels by 360 Forged | CarZi said on January 15th, 2009 at 5:01 am

    […] under that carbon fiber 5 spoke is most likely aluminum. Like I explained in my earlier post (Carbon Fiber Wheels – Not the Ultimate Performance Wheel Material) which examines the science of why you will most likely never see full 100% carbon fiber wheels, […]

  16. Golf said on April 6th, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    This is never easy.

  17. Exclusive Ferrari FXX Pedal Powered Go-Kart | CarZi said on July 16th, 2009 at 9:42 am

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  18. mr. carbon said on January 10th, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Real nice wheels but 29,000 yeah right. I over lay real carbon fiber over rims such as 360 forged and modular and cor wheels.I carbon fiber just about anything some of my work can be seen on my website http://www.prestigekustoms.com just call me up and send me your wheels and get them done a small fraction of the cost.

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  21. Raymond said on May 16th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I have wheels on my 360 spider that are Carbon Fiber rim and Alloy Centers. Have driven over many potholes, and other cement imperfections at high speeds.. No problems yet..

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