In the wheel industry there are two main types of wheels: 3 piece forged and cast. There are many advantages to each type as well as disadvantages. The main difference between the two is the manufacturing processes used to create them. The forging process helps to create a light, strong, and durable wheel, while the casting process is less expensive and quicker to produce.
In the forging process, 3 piece wheels begin as high-quality T6-6061 aluminum alloy billets. The billets are then subjected to intense pressure to form the shape of a wheel. Due to the great amounts of pressure, tiny imperfections, holes, and cracks that can form during manufacturing are eliminated, creating a dense grain structure. The process of manufacturing a forged wheel also uses less metal to achieve a desired strength, thus reducing weight, which can improve overall vehicle performance.
A forged 3 piece wheel also uses a number of different parts. The wheel is made up of a face (center), outer barrel (outer hoop), and inner barrel (inner hoop). Both the inner and outer barrens are sealed together and then fasted with the face by a number of bolts. This construction allows for manufacturers to provide different wheel widths and offsets.
Cast wheels use a different manufacturing process than forged wheels. There are two types of casting: gravity and negative pressure. In gravity casting, molten alloy is poured into a mold in the shape of a wheel where it then cools. With negative pressure casting a vacuum sucks the molten material into a mold, reducing the number of air pockets in the wheel. Both casting processes are both less expensive and quicker than forging.
However, cast wheels are not without their faults. Tiny imperfections can still remain in the wheel after it cools which can lead to cracking, quality, and reliability issues. The process also requires more material be used to achieve a given strength, therefore cast wheels are usually heavier than forged 3 piece wheels.
Forged 3 piece wheels offer owners up to a 35 percent reduction in weight over similar cast wheels due to their construction. While forged wheels may be more expensive than cast, the high-strength and quality properties ensure that a forged 3 piece wheel will be more reliable and durable.
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