How Cast Aluminum Wheels Are Made
Recommended Reading: How They Build It: Aluminum Wheels
When it comes to after-market wheels, there are two common material options – steel wheels and aluminum wheels. While steel wheels are useful for dedicated off-road vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, aluminum wheels are a good option for almost all cars, trucks, and SUVs.
Aluminum wheels are preferred for most consumer vehicles because:
- They’re lightweight. Heavy wheels reduce fuel economy, slow acceleration, and reduce suspension performance.
- They’re easy to mold and shape. It’s difficult to make complicated shapes with steel, but with Aluminum, wheel design is mostly limited by imagination.
- They’re very corrosion resistant.
Ready for more details? There are three different ways you can build an aluminum wheel:
- Machining solid blocks of aluminum. Rarely will you find a wheel that’s completely machined, but you will often find a wheel with machined components. Machining is the only way to ensure precise fit, and a solid block of either forged or cast aluminum can be machined.
- Casting aluminum wheels from molten metal. This is the cheapest way to go, but it’s not the best. Casting creates an imperfect metallic structure, which means cast aluminum wheels are weaker and more brittle than forged aluminum wheels.
- Forging aluminum wheels. Forged wheels are the best in terms of strength and weight, but they can be very, very expensive.
The article below explains the casting process, and it’s a great snapshot of wheel manufacturing in general. Enjoy.
How They Build It: Aluminum Wheels
One of the best things about working in the magazine business is the opportunity extended by manufacturers to let our lenses behind closed doors to document precisely how a particular product is made. With this series, we have covered a whole assortment of topics ranging from complete vehicles to the tires they roll on. However, until now, cast aluminum wheels have gone overlooked, so we jumped at the opportunity to tour the manufacturing facility of American Eagle Wheels, located in South Carolina. While some of the various steps in the manufacturing process were off-limits to our lenses, we were able to see for ourselves most of the steps involved in how a cast aluminum wheel is made. We left with a newfound respect for the efforts required to build them.
Read the full article…