Today's cars contain so much plastic that this lightweight, cheap material could best be described as the chrome of our generation. And yet, researchers are finding new automotive applications for it every day. These wheels, for instance, are made of plastic. To be specific, the material is glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) and it one day may replace alloy, aluminum and, for the lucky few, carbon fiber, as our wheel material of choice. Though researchers at Fraunhofer
in Germany have been working on GRP wheels for some time, they haven't been able to efficiently test them until now. A new type of simulation that allows them to manipulate the length, curvature and density of the glass fibers themselves in the wheel has opened the door to much better testing methods that should result in plastic wheels coming to the market much sooner. GRP wheels should be both lighter and less expensive than their metal counterparts, reducing the unsprung weight of your car and wallet at the same time. Where do we sign up?
[Source: Motor Authority]