We’ve already shown readers how carbon-ceramic brakes are made, so now let’s take a look at how carbon-fiber wheels come to life.
The video above comes from Australian-based company Carbon Revolution. The company, which has rocketed to success thanks to its innovative one-piece carbon-fiber wheels, announced Friday it will raise yearly capacity from 10,000 to 150,000 wheels. Carbon Revolution currently supplies wheels for a number of automakers, too, including Ferrari. Ford was first to offer the company’s wheels with the Shelby GT350R.
The company also has a video that shows its process for making the wheels. It all begins with a CAD drawing to define the design. Next, it’s on to the material itself: carbon fiber. The carbon-fiber material is cut to shape, undergoes a proprietary injection process that results in the one-piece construction. Next, it heads off for a resin sample integrity check and then a high-pressure leak test. After all, the wheel, will need to help the tire hold air and withstand some immense forces on the road and track.
To further verify its quality, Carbon Revolution performs a CT scan and brings in a coordinated measuring machine with tolerances of +/- 0.15 mm. The robots and computers make sure the wheel is sized per the specifications required and then wheel is off to a precision machining center. From there, the wheels enter high-temperature curing and bake in an oven before a coating and an embedded RFID chip is installed to track each wheel. The wheels are weighed and spin tested to verify the required strength-to-weight ratio. They are also road-tested.
Before boxing, a human personally inspects the wheel for flaws and hand polishes the final finish. In the end, each wheel ends up on one of many supercars and muscle cars around the world.
The wheels offer major benefits for automakers looking to keep weight off of their cars. For example, the Shelby GT350R’s carbon-fiber wheels weigh just 18 pounds each compared to 33 pounds for alternative aluminum wheels. Have a look at the innovative process in the video above.