How Conventional Carbon Rims are Made
Carbon fiber pre-impregnated with epoxy is cut from a large roll and then hand-laid onto a foam mandrel. Overwhelmingly this is done in Asia. This isn’t a statement about quality – we live in a global marketplace and many amazing products are developed in countries other than ours. Instead, we mention Asia to make a statement about Fusion-Fiber’s carbon footprint. During this process, a great deal of epoxy-impregnated (and non-recycleable) carbon fiber is wasted
In order to maintain its stability and strength, cut sections of pre-impregnated carbon requires refrigerated storage where it has a shelf life usually of less than 30 days. At this point, that raw carbon rim is best described as sticky or tacky. It’s then placed in a steel mold and compressed in an autoclave which creates an environment that carefully controls air, heat and pressure. The rim lives in the autoclave until it forms the desired shape, where it is then it is heated to around 350-degrees and “cures” for around 45 minutes. This time varies by material/shape, etc.
It’s then necessary for the mold to cool for a significant amount of time. After the cooling period the mandrel is is opened and the rim removed where it is then allowed to cool for another 1-2 hours (depending upon shape and outside air temperature.) At this point, the rim is then sanded and de-burred. Excess material is removed by hand with an electric sander, file or rasp. The material removed is epoxy residue and is pure waste. The rim then gets drilled for valve and spoke holes drilled which again creates non-recyclable waste
After drilling, the rim is clear coated with or without decals and is repeatedly baked in an oven multiple times so that the epoxy-based clear coat finish can properly adhere to the rim. The rim is then placed in a box and then shipped to you or a US wheel or bicycle manufacturer.
How FusionFiber Rims are Made
An endless spool of uni-directional carbon fiber is robotically cross-plied in the desired orientation and impregnated with high-performance long chain polymers. This creates “FusionFiber™. It contains no epoxy whatsoever.
Unlike conventional carbon rims, FusionFiber™ requires no refrigeration and has an unlimited shelf life. Also unlike carbon, there’s ZERO loss of stability or strength and no risk of the material becoming compromised or brittle due to disparate climates.
The sections of the rim that are laid up with raw FusionFiber™ are then joined via flash/UV welding. Spoke holes and the valve hole are then drilled and the rim receives vinyl decals. No clear coat, paint or additional finish is required. The lack of additional finishing renders a Fusion-Fiber™ rim 100% recyclable once vinyl decals are removed. The rim is placed into a box and is delivered from our US production facility in Utah.
There are a few important points to be made about stability, energy consumption, and efficient use of material. But perhaps the most compelling point to be made is that by producing domestically and without refrigeration, we reduce the carbon footprint when compared to a conventional rim produced in Asia by a estimated 30%.
Add to this the simple fact that FusionFiber is 100% recycleable and upcycleable, we’re confident in stating that not only are our rims better for your ride, but they’re also measurably better for our planet.