The wheels are crafted using the world's largest carbon braiding machine with a diameter of nearly 30 feet.
Porsche has staked a claim as the first automaker to use braided carbon fiber for lightweight wheels, available only for the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series.
The unique layup process starts with 200 individual components that comprise the wheel center, made from carbon-fiber fabric. The rim base is made from custom woven fibers in the world's largest braiding machine, which measures nearly 30 feet in diameter.
After the two primary components are complete, the wheel center is braided into the rim base and the entire wheel is impregnated with resin and cured in an autoclave at high pressure and high temperature.
Strength characteristics of carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) parts are directly related to the direction of the fibers. Traditional fabrics weave the fibers at 90 degrees, creating the characteristic checkerboard appearance and simplifying manufacturing processes. Some fibers may be misaligned with the expected load, however, requiring additional material and causing excess weight.
Braiding allows engineers to optimize filament orientation to optimize directional strength to match specific requirements for a particular component. With fewer fibers misaligned relative to the load, many parts can theoretically be significantly lighter when manufactured using a braiding process instead of off-the-shelf fabrics.
Porsche says its braided wheels are 20 percent stronger yet 20 percent lighter than standard alloy wheels, reducing unsprung weight by nearly 19 pounds.
The featherweight wheels cost nearly $18,000 in Europe.