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Engineering Materials
One-Piece Carbon Composite Wheel Drives Cars
8/13/2012

The one-piece CR-9 front wheel weighs 7kg (15.73 pounds), has a rim diameter of 19 inches, and attaches to metal hardware with a patented joint system under dynamic loading conditions. (Source: Carbon Revolution)
The one-piece CR-9 front wheel weighs 7kg (15.73 pounds), has a rim diameter of 19 inches, and attaches to metal hardware with a patented joint system under dynamic loading conditions.
(Source: Carbon Revolution)

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Beth Stackpole
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Lightweight and still good looking
Beth Stackpole   8/13/2012 7:58:05 AM
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Looks like a really important development effort. Not only does the wheel help with the lightweighting strategies of automotive OEMs, I'd say it's still pretty good looking. Given that style is such an important element of car selection, I'd say any kind of modifications to materials or appearance in the name of lightweighting vehicles still has to have an appeal to consumers and I think this example satisfies both.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Lightweight and still good looking
TJ McDermott   8/13/2012 10:48:02 AM
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Paraphrasing Henry Ford (regarding the Model T) and applying it to carbon fiber:  You can have any color you want, as long as it's black.

I predict riches for the developer of non-black carbon fiber.  Sure, you can paint it.  But if the color is part of the material, a process is saved.  Finishes wear off too.

A better way of saying it might be:  Beauty, in this case, is more than skin deep.

Sven
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Shatter
Sven   8/13/2012 5:06:04 PM
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I wonder about true real world impact testing on a carbon fibre wheel.

See the old steel rims could take a curb or nasty detroit pot-hole and you could drive off with a dent in the rib.  The tire might leak some air on the way home.  A mallet or a torch and you could get it back into shape.

The aluminum wheels are usually pretty good, but occasionally I've seen a pot-hole crack the aluminum and the wheel is toast.  I've seen people weld aluminum rims, after damage, but I'd stay away from that.

Carbon fibre is brittle and shatters.  I envision hitting a curb or nasty pot-hole and having the entire wheel splinter into shards.  Most of us have seen carbon fibre at the race track and what happens during impact.

Makes me wonder.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Lightweight and still good looking
Ann R. Thryft   8/13/2012 6:31:18 PM
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Beth, I agree, the design of this wheel was nicely done from an esthetic standpoint, as well as from a structural standpoint.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Lightweight and still good looking
Ann R. Thryft   8/13/2012 6:32:39 PM
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TJ, I think you've got a great point there. Red? Electric blue? Magenta? Daffodil yellow? OTOH, I'm not sure if that's physically possible, since carbon is, well, black.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Shatter
Ann R. Thryft   8/13/2012 6:35:56 PM
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Sven, I think your concerns are real, but so is the crash-worthiness testing of carbon fiber made for high-volume automotive apps. Not all carbon fiber composites are made in the same way. Stay tuned for my upcoming September feature on this topic.

Sven
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Re:Shatter
Sven   8/13/2012 7:19:35 PM
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Sorry had to edit this.  Browser I was using to reply left all the spaces out. 

I look forward to it! I love technology, and I imagine there will be a huge safety factor put in. I just keep having visions of things like the time Kimi Raikkonen was on his way to win an F1 race and his rear wing let go. It put up with several G's down force--until it didn't--then it was instantly obliterated.  Ductile metals have a forgiveness as they are over loaded they fail and stretch and deform until becoming unusable. Carbon fibre is so strong but past the yield point it seems its almost instant fail. In concrete we use rebar to offset the brittleness. Maybe this carbon fibre will have some stretchy/bendy fibres???

 

Charles Murray
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Re: Shatter
Charles Murray   8/13/2012 10:03:17 PM
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Nice story, Ann. Any idea how this compares to aluminum wheels in terms of cost?

TJ McDermott
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Re: Lightweight and still good looking
TJ McDermott   8/13/2012 10:14:52 PM
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The only impossible thing is skiing through a revolving door.

If there's incentive enough, a chemist and the company backing him are going to be very rich.

You've forgotten carbon comes in several forms (cough cough diamond cough cough).  It's clear, fiber's been black all this time.  Surely there's some room in the middle for a bit of color.  Maybe the fibers are carbon nano-tubes, and the interiors can be filled with a colored element.

I wish I had the capital.  I see a mint in the making.

bob from maine
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Re: Lightweight and still good looking
bob from maine   8/14/2012 10:25:22 AM
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Gee, I don't know - why would you pay the price for carbon and then not show-it-off? Isn't that part of the glamour? I do know that people have added pigment to the resin on some carbon assemblies. It is, after all FRP, so you can make the plastic any color you want. I'm much more impressed with the fastenings. So far, if you want to connect a carbon fiber assembly to something, you must either bond it, or use fasteners which typically create such high point loads that the carbon assembly fractures. There is great potential in this technology though I'd guess cost will be the major factor in implementing it.

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