How Are Car Wheels Made?
The first wheels were made of carved stone, and used as potter's wheels. It was another 300 years before humans figured out that wheels could be used for transportation, in the form of wheelbarrows.
Early wheels were solid wood, with a simple hole in the centre to receive an axle of some kind, it was only around 4000 years ago that wheels began to be hollowed out in order to reduce weight. Reducing wheel weight is a balancing game of weight vs strength, and those are challenges that still exist today.
Early horseless carriage wheels were wooden construction with an iron band around the perimeter. The metal gave the wheel fantastic durability,
Modern vehicle wheels are fundamentally the same as wheels from centuries ago. They use less energy than dragging something thanks to much lower friction.
While the function of a wheel hasn't changed, the manufacturing techniques have. Modern wheels are mostly made from an aluminium alloy or steel.
Cast wheels are the most common manufacturing technique for wheels, as it's a refined and inexpensive process that is easy to manufacture.
Molten alloy is poured into a mould and allowed to cool under a vacuum. The resulting wheel is close to the final product but needs to be machined to achieve the final finish, as the mould will leave a slight texture on the freshly released wheel.
Much of the Speedy Wheels catalogue is made from castings. This gives us the ability to offer a wide variety of designs and consistent product quality.
Forging is the manufacturing technique that results in the lightest and strongest wheels. Forged wheels are incredibly expensive, but durable. They're highly valued for motorsport applications as they will bend in an accident instead of cracking.
A forged wheel begins with a solid billet of aluminium alloy that gets mechanically squeezed and pushed into the rough shape of a wheel before being put into a CNC machine and milled to final dimensions.
Currently, Speedy Wheels don't have any fully forged wheels, but we're always developing new wheel designs, so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updated news and product information.
A third, hybrid method of construction that Speedy Wheels takes advantage of is flow forming.
With flow-formed wheels, the wheel is first cast, like a standard cast wheel, but emerges from the mould much narrower than the final product.
The flow forming part of the manufacturing process is where the incomplete, narrow wheel is heated and the barrel of the wheel is squeezed between rollers, where it is mechanically formed to the final size. This results in a wheel that is easy to manufacture, but the part of the wheel that undergoes the most stresses is actually forged, all at a price point that makes it attractive for our customers.
You can find flow-forming technologies on 18, 19 and 20 inch Carbine wheels that you can find here.