On Friday, Porsche unveiled it will now offer lightweight wheels with braided CFRP. The wheels are now available as an option for the Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. Porsche now joins the company of Ford and supercar-maker Koenigsegg as the only automakers to offer CFRP wheels at a high level of production.
As Porsche explains, manufacturing its new wheel involves cutting and assembling over 200 individual components. The wheel’s rim base is made from braided carbon fiber by what Porsche claims is currently the world’s largest carbon fiber braiding machine, which has a diameter of approximately nine meters. The wheel center is then braided into the rim base. The assembled wheel is impregnated with resin and pre-hardened at high pressure and high temperatures. The finished wheel is hardened at high temperatures followed by a long cooling process. The central lock is then inserted into the finished wheel and the wheel is protected with clear lacquer.
The OEM says braiding technology offers a number of advantages over the more conventional method of manufacturing prepreg carbon fiber. First, the company says this technique makes the material structure of the carbon considerably denser and more compact, which increases rigidity. Using the material more efficiently also produces less waste. The wheel is made from a total of 18 kilometers carbon fiber or eight square meters of carbon fiber.
In total, the wheels weigh around 8.5 kilograms less than standard alloy wheels, which results in a 20 percent weight reduction. They are also 20 percent stronger than traditional wheels.
“With a reduced unsprung weight, the tires trail the surface of the road better and are perfectly optimized for absorbing longitudinal and lateral forces,” Porsche says. “Lower rotating masses mean more spontaneity both in acceleration and braking.”