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Huntsman has unveiled a hybrid wheel produced by a well established, tier one supplier to the performance car sector designed to save up to 20% of weight against its aluminium competitors.
Huntsman explains, the wheel features an Araldite structural system CFRP (Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer) rim around an aluminium alloy centre star. Developed using high-pressure resin transfer moulding process in its manufacture, it delivers the necessary thermal and mechanical performance while, thanks to weight reduction, releasing extra power or energy savings.
Having worked with several tier one suppliers in the past, Huntsman says it inevitably drew upon years of experience in high performance composites for this type of project.
With each supplier having it’s own specific set of requirements for each application, Huntsman says it combined this expertise with a wide range of its products, to achieve the best solution for its client, by enabling the manufacture of a wheel that offers gain in power, savings in energy, increased comfort through vibrations damping, as well as a design that is aesthetically pleasing.
According to Huntsman, the notable advantages of the hybrid or full carbon wheel are numerous and impressive. With less rotating mass and less unsprung mass, the benefits include a reduction in fuel consumption, less road noise and decreased stopping distances, as well as providing increased acceleration, improved mechanical grip, plus enhanced steering and handling.
Referring to the technology, Nastassja Kelley, Marketing Leader EMEA, Composites and Adhesives for Huntsman Advanced Materials said, “Carbon wheels have been around for some years now but have mostly been a custom made, niche application. The ongoing lightweighting trend in the automotive industry is pushing OEM`s and Tiers to become more creative in terms of materials and how to keep or improve performance while complying with more and more strict CO2 regulations.”
She continued, “This trend has given the carbon wheel development a tremendous push. Many OEM`s and Tiers are now looking into cost competitive mass production of carbon wheels; thus the formerly custom made and very expensive wheel that was primarily purchased by car and motorsport fanatics will be available for a much broader market in the near future.”
Besides the documented advantages, Huntsman claim that some estimates are now also suggesting that saving weight at the wheel delivers twice the benefit of an equivalent reduction on the vehicle frame. Consequently the industry is beginning to realise that this technology is not only for high luxury cars but also trickling down to mass produced vehicles in the near future.
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