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Ever wonder what goes into making a three piece wheel?

Some have expressed interest in seeing what goes into the making of an aftermarket 2 or 3 piece wheel with a "forged" center. This thread will show the materials as they show up at the manufacturer and then show the machines used to create the wheel. I will show as many of the steps as possible, but still need to take a few more pics.

So for now, here is the materials as they arrive......

Forged blanks, notice the different profiles available. A manufacturer can choose from many readily available shapes/sizes/profiles or can spec out their own custom one. (By the way, most if not all the manufactures in the US get their forgings from the same company.)

Here are a couple of slightly different forgings.







Here is the sheet aluminum that arrives ready for cutting to make the cirular blank that eventually becomes a wheel shell (inner or outer). This is 6061, but some use less expensive 5000 seires (the actual number escapes me).





Next up we will start with the making of a wheel shell. I will post the machines and processes used to cut/form/heat treat/machine/polish a wheel shell.

Stay tuned.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:46 PM
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Old 08-04-2007, 07:01 AM
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Okay, the sheet aluminum gets cut into circles of specific size depending on the width/diameter of the wheel half that is being made. A CNC router with a vacuum table is used to nest the parts. There needs to be waste material so that the machine hold its vacuum. All waste sheet gets recycled by the shop's local metal recycling outfit. Just load it into the bin, when it is full, they come and get it.....

Here is a CNC router typical of what most wheel makers would use.......



Next up I will show the spin forming machine and the dies used to make wheel halfs. I will also show some parts before and after forming.

Cheers
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:36 PM
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Old 08-05-2007, 02:18 AM
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Old 08-05-2007, 02:22 AM
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Old 08-05-2007, 03:48 AM
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I had the opportunity to tour the Fikse manufacturing facility a couple years ago. Absolutely fascinating.

Jeff, I'm looking forward to more!
Old 08-05-2007, 07:02 AM
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Thanks for posting Jeff.
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Old 08-05-2007, 09:32 AM
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Old 08-05-2007, 02:27 PM
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Okay, so each wheel shell "blank" (for lack of a better term) needs to be cut to a very specific dimension depending on the diameter and width required for the part. You can nest different size parts from the same sheet of material if you like, or you can make all one size at a time.

When the router has done it's work, here is what you have....



and some more.....



Now, you have to match the correct blank up with the correct selection of dies to make shape the wheel half. As you can see there is a lot of different dies one must have to make a variety of different inners and outers of various widths and diameters. They can be stacked together on the machine to get the correct width required. Here is a small sampling of the some dies one may use....



Next you mount the required dies onto a machine like this (spin forming machine) and let it do its magic.





It takes on of those blanks and forms you one of these (with out the center ID being trimmed or the bolt pattern in it)



Neither the router or the spin forming machine work magic on their own. They need to be programmed and tested and proofed to ensure the parts meet the specs. Once that is done and the program is proven, you could make a rough inner or outer shell in about 1 min.

Once the part is formed it is ready for heat treating. When the heat treating is done, it gets run throught the forming process one more time.

Next I will show some pictures of the Mori mill used to cut the inner bore and bolt pattern into the shell.

Then it will be time to make a center and head to the polishing room with our rim shells!

Cheers
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Old 08-06-2007, 07:08 PM
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very cool

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Old 08-07-2007, 01:08 PM
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Thank you for taking the time. Fascinating!

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Old 08-07-2007, 05:12 PM
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Taking one step backwards.....

I forgot to show a wheel half in the Mori being cut.f Here is one that has the bolt circle in it already, but is now going to have the bore ID trimmed. The probe you see stick out is meauring the part....



Cheers
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Old 08-07-2007, 07:48 PM
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Here is what the forging looks like being loaded into machine. For its first pass, it is measured and then a hole is milled dead center. That is the first step.

Here is what it looks like being loaded on the "tombstone" before it makes its way around in the machine.



Next a front side pattern is machined (the face of the wheel), and then the backside is done. The backside varies quiet a bit as that is how one can accomodate a wide range of offsets down to the mm with the need for any spacers etc....

Unless you are ordering a "stocked common item" the backside program has to be created special for your wheels. This is what makes a "custom wheel" truely a custom wheel.

The machine can do magic if you tell it to, this model can hold 120 different cutting bits at any given time.

Tomorrow I will get some pics of a forging with the front side done and some that are complete. Then we can talk about finishing options.....

Cheers
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Old 08-07-2007, 07:55 PM
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Old 08-07-2007, 08:07 PM
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Still jumping around a little, but here is the side by side pics of the steps in making a wheel shell, in this case an 17x1.5 outer.

The pics are the parts sitting on a sheet of 6061 that is on the router table about to be cut....

Step 1, this is how the part looks right after it is cut by the router.




Step 2, it is formed into this, then sent for heat treating.



Step 3 is heat treating, and step 4 is re spinning after heat treating. The part looks the same as it did in step 2 however.

Step 5, first polish.




Step 6, cut center bore and bolt pattern (1 machining operation) I showed this part in the machine a couple of post ago.



Step 7 is a final polish and then the part is ready for assemble to a wheel.

Cheers
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:22 PM
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