Vision Composite Products selected IDI Composites’ Ultrium™ U660 for its carbon fiber forged wheels.
In order to survive harsh conditions, corrosion, and road hazards, automotive aftermarket wheels need to be strong and durable. To enhance drivability with speed, acceleration, and safe stopping time, as well as to help with fuel efficiency, the wheels need to be lightweight. And to appeal to the consumer’s eye, the wheels must be sporty. This is a tall order, and Vision Composite Products (Vision) partnered with IDI Composites (IDI) to use IDI’s Ultrium™ U660 carbon fiber composites to develop high-performance Carbon Fiber Forged (CFF) wheels to meet these diverse needs.
Engineers at Vision researched materials for design of a wheel that would outperform traditional performance wheels cast and forged with aluminum alloy and decided upon composite materials as the solution. To create the new CFF wheels, the team partnered with IDI and the 3i Technology Center. By using Ultrium™ carbon fiber composites, and A&P Technology’s continuous Netshape® preforms in a carbon fiber forged molding process, high-volume production is attainable at a cost competitive to the forged aluminum production process. The new wheel is up to 30% lighter than forged aluminum wheels.
Testing was extensive on the new CFF wheels, and the wheels passed SAE/DOT lifecycle testing by three to five times the standard requirements.
“Ultrium™ is the ideal material for Vision’s new Carbon Fiber Forged wheels,” explained Kevin Cahill, director of composite technology for IDI Composites. “Ultrium™ is extremely lightweight and durable, with a beautiful appearance that has the ability to withstand extreme loads experienced on high performance vehicles. This material ensures that these wheels will not only perform well, but the moldability of thermoset composites allows for cost optimized and innovative design options.”
“Our 3i Composites Technology Center is truly an asset that helps make projects like these possible.” said Tom Flood, vice president and general manager of IDI Composites International. “The 3i Technology Center’s testing capabilities and dedicated team of composite chemists and engineers allows IDI to drive innovation and push the performance boundaries of composites beyond the value limitations of conventional materials.”