Posted by Anthony CarboneFebruary 14, 2008 at 7:36 am
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.
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.
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.
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Carbon Fiber Wheels
[Source: WheelsAndMore.de, WikiPedia.com]