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 earths 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.
- FORGED OR SEMI-SOLID FORGED
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.