At 8.8kg, the composite wheel is 20% lighter than an equivalent aluminium alloy wheel

Porsche rolling out carbon fibre wheels

SPORTS car specialist Porsche is bringing an all-carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic wheel to the market, saying it will be the first global automaker to offer the CFRP wheel when it debuts in early 2018 as an option on the 911 Turbo S Exclusive series.

According to Plastics News Europe, at 8.8kg, the composite wheel is 20% lighter than an equivalent aluminium alloy wheel, but Porsche — a unit of Germany’s Volkswagen AG — says the wheels are also 20% stronger. That strength combined with lighter weight will improve performance with “more spontaneity in both acceleration and braking,” Porsche said.

The wheels will be priced at more than €15,000 euros for a complete set.

The wheel’s centre is produced using woven carbon fibre fabric, with the fabric cut and assembled over 200 individual components. To make the rim, Porsche has turned to a braided carbon fibre, investing in what it claims is the world’s largest carbon fibre braiding machine, with a 9-metre diameter, made by Herzog GmbH of Oldenburg, Germany.

The carbon fibre fabric centre is then braided into the rim. Altogether, the wheels use 18km of carbon fibre material.

The braiding machinery is also used to integrate the rim and centre parts with each other, prior to resin impregnation and initial resin curing in a press at high pressure and temperature. Following post-moulding final cure, then cooling, the central lock is inserted and clear protective lacquer is applied to the entire wheel to aesthetically emphasize its full-carbon construction.

Porsche says the low-waste braided CF process results in particularly high density and compactness that benefits wheel rigidity.