BST: How does carbon fiber compare with Magnesium and Aluminum alloys?

Wheels manufactured from metal are either cast, forged, machined, or manufactured as a combination of the three processes. Aluminum wheels have been around for many years. They are relatively easy to manufacture and also relatively cheap, but they are heavy because of the density to strength ratio of Aluminum (how much strength you can get for a kilogram of Aluminum). To improve the weight you can either choose a material that is lighter or one that is stronger, or one that is lighter and stronger. Using magnesium, which is lighter but not necessarily stronger, you can improve on weight slightly.

The problem with magnesium is twofold: first – its fatigue properties are poor and so are the corrosion properties, so a wheel may not last very long even if perfectly cast and machined. The second problem is worse – very often micro-porosity occurs during the casting process, which has a negative impact on both fatigue life and corrosion. So magnesium wheels can be nice and light but may not last very long, sometimes less than a racing season. This makes magnesium wheels good for racing but unattractive to the man in the street. The only solution is to find a material that is lighter, stronger, fatigue free and corrosion free – Carbon fiber. As an engineering material, carbon fiber is far superior to Magnesium or Aluminum alloys.

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