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Alloy Wheel Types, Models And Construction

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you can find the whole article here:

http://www.tirerack.com/wheels/tech/construc.htm

All wheels are round. Or are they?

Though not enforced, there are quality standards to govern the production of wheels. Some countries though, like Germany and Japan, have government regulations requiring aftermarket wheels to meet certain criteria and ensure proper fit. The United States has taken steps to establish guidelines but it will be some time before they can enact regulation of any kind.

Consequently, all wheels are not made the same. The performance of an alloy wheel is a direct result of the manufacturing technique employed.

The Tire Rack offers a wide range of wheel choices from manufactures that have adopted the manufacturing processes that meet the strict O.E.M. (Original Equipment manufacturers) requirements. Wheel companies that supply to the O.E.M. market must follow certain procedures during the manufacturing process to maintain the quality and integrity of their product.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing an alloy wheel.

One-Piece Cast Wheels

This is the most common type of aluminum wheel. The casting of wheels is the process of getting molten aluminum inside a mold to form a wheel. There are different ways this can be accomplished and although it sounds simple, this is truly an art when done properly.

? GRAVITY CASTING

Gravity casting is the most basic process of pouring molten aluminum into a mold utilizing the earth?s gravity to fill the mold. Gravity casting offers a very reasonable production cost and is a good method for casting designs that are more visually oriented or when reducing weight is not a primary concern. Since the process relies on gravity to fill the mold, the aluminum is not as densely packed in the mold as some other casting processes. Often gravity cast wheels will have a higher weight to achieve the required strength.

? LOW PRESSURE CASTING

Low pressure casting uses positive pressure to move the molten aluminum into the mold quicker and achieve a finished product that has improved mechanical properties (more dense) over a gravity cast wheel. Low-pressure casting has a slightly higher production cost over gravity casting. Low pressure is the most common process approved for aluminum wheels sold to the O.E.M. market. Low-pressure cast wheels offer a good value for the aftermarket as well. Some companies offer wheels that are produced under a higher pressure in special casting equipment to create a wheel that is lighter and stronger than a wheel produced in low pressure. Once again in the quest for lighter weight, there is a higher cost associated with the process.

? SPUN-RIM, FLOW-FORMING OR RIM ROLLING TECHNOLOGY

This specialized process begins with a low pressure type of casting and uses a special machine that spins the initial casting, heats the outer portion of the casting and then uses steel rollers pressed against the rim area to pull the rim to its final width and shape. The combination of the heat, pressure and spinning create a rim area with the strength similar to a forged wheel without the high cost of the forging. Some of the special wheels produced for the O.E.M. high performance or limited production vehicles utilize this type of technology resulting in a light and strong wheel at a reasonable cost. BBS has used this technology for several years in their production of racing wheels for Formula One and Indy cars. BBS's RC wheel for the aftermarket is an example of a wheel produced using spun rim technology. Speedline wheels, produced with "Flow-Forming" technology are another example.

? FORGED OR SEMI-SOLID FORGED

In forged wheels, computer numerically controlled

(CNC) mills add the cosmetics and the bolt circle to exacting tolerances.

The ultimate in one-piece wheels. Forging is the process of forcing a solid billet of aluminum between the forging dies under an extreme amount of pressure. This creates a finished product that is very dense, very strong and therefore can be very light. The costs of tooling, development, equipment, etc., make this type of wheel very exclusive and usually demand a high price in the aftermarket. Semi-solid forging (SSF) is a process that heats a billet of special alloy to an almost liquid state and then the aluminum is forced into a mold at a very high rate. The finished product offers mechanical properties very similar to a forged wheel without the high production and tooling costs of a forged wheel. When low weight and performance are on your priority list, the SSF technology offers an excellent value. Currently only SSR (Speed Star Racing) from Japan is licensed to use this process for the production of wheels.

Multi-Piece Wheels

This type of wheel utilizes two or three components assembled together to produce a finished wheel. Multi-piece wheels can use many different methods of manufacturing. Centers can be cast in various methods or forged. The rim sections for 3-piece wheels are normally spun from disks of aluminum. Generally, spun rim sections offer the ability to custom-tailor wheels for special applications that would not be available otherwise. The rim sections are bolted to the center and normally a sealant is applied in or on the assembly area to seal the wheel. This type of 3-piece construction was originally developed for racing in the early 1970s and has been used on cars ever since. The 3-piece wheels are most popular in the 17" and larger diameters.

There are now many options for 2-piece wheels in the market. The 2-piece wheel design does not offer as wide a range of application that a 3-piece wheel allows, however they are more common in the market and the prices start well below the average 3-piece wheel. Some 2-piece wheels have the center bolted into a cast or cast/spun rim section and other manufacturers press centers into spun rim sections and weld the unit together. When BBS developed a new 2-piece wheel to replace the previous 3-piece street wheel, they used the special rim-rolling technology (originally developed for racing wheels) to give the rim section the weight and strength advantages similar to a forged rim. On the high-end of the 2-piece wheel market you can find wheels using forged rims and forged centers. Since these are only sold in small volume and due to the high development and production costs associated with the forging process, they tend to be on the high end of the price scale.wheel tech

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  • Club Hybrid Poll

  • 221 Hybrid Reliability

    1. 1. If you were to consider buying a Hybrid model over 5 years old, would you be worried about the reliability of the Hybrid system?


      • Not really as Hybrid systems are always reliable
      • Not if it had a Manufacturers Warranty on the Hybrid system
      • I would not buy a Hybrid model over 5 years old