An EU-funded consortium, coordinated by RIBA Composites, a company of the Bucci Industries Group (Faenza, Italy) and Fraunhofer ICT (ICT, Pfinztal, Germany) are working to develop and commercialize a lightweight carbon automotive wheel, using an automated, high-volume production process. Three small and medium-sized enterprises and two research institutions will carry out all the necessary developments and validation to enter the market with the new carbon wheel in 2018.
The European collaborative project called “CARIM" was launched in January 2016 and it aims for the final development, homologation and commercialization of a full carbon automotive wheel manufactured in an automated, high-volume production process. Developments in automated CFRP production technology will generate a wheel that is 30-50% lighter than aluminum wheels. The manufacture of these wheels in an automated preforming and HP-RTM process will ensure short cycle times and lower costs that will reportedly enable scale-up to series production and make the CARIM wheels competitive against current casted/forged Al-wheels and other emerging plastic wheel concepts. A testing and validation phase for the demonstrators covers a comprehensive product homologation to meet TUV regulations and the requirements of OEMs and material suppliers.