How Alloy Wheels Are Manufactured

Alloy wheels are made out of different kinds of metals.


By: Nelson Benitez, Journalist

Do you know what alloy wheels are? If not, then alloy wheels are the metal part in the middle of the wheel that keeps it steady and makes a car able to drive.

Alloy wheels are made out of metal, which is better than steel wheels, because they are lighter, which is a good advantage. Metal wheels are better than steel wheels because of the quicker and faster stopping they provide.

The metal that makes alloy wheels is mainly Aluminum, Nickel, Magnesium, or a combination of these metals. The metals are melted at around 1200° and then poured into a mold which gives it the shape.

The aluminum is let to harden and then is submerged in lukewarm water for a few minutes which cools it down enough to be handled. The wheel undergoes a complex heat treatment that takes about 12 hours from start to finish.

The first thing they do is that they heat the wheel at about 500° Celsius. This rearranges the molecular structure strengthening. Then they submerge the wheel in 80 degree water for 30 seconds which locks in the new strength, then they reheat the wheel to about 180 degrees for nine hours to further stabilize the wheel.

The metal doesn’t come out of the mold in a perfect shape. The edges are rough due to some excess metal. They have to be trimmed off, so they mount the wheel on a computer- guided lathe. It precision machines the sides, refining them to within point zero five millimeters of  the measurements specified in the technical drawings.

As for the more intricate face, a worker manually trims the edges with a blade. The wheel is now finalized. It’s time to test the wheel to make sure it’s airtight while pumping air into the wheel. They submerge it in water. Should any air bubbles appear? If there are air bubbles it would mean there’s a pinhole in the metal or some shrinkage. In which case the wheel fails inspection, no air bubbles. The wheel proceeds to the automated painting line.

First a base coat, then a coat of color which can be anything from classic silver or black to a flashier shade, then a clear coat to protect the paint and prevent fifteen hundred or so wheels. The factory randomly selects two or three to test for performance and workers install the decorative cap that covers the center hub. It typically bears the specific brand logos, then a final cosmetic inspection to make sure these aluminium alloy wheels look as good as they perform.



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