We’ve all seen those flashy custom wheels bolted to vehicles most of us couldn’t afford. Like those vehicles, those custom wheels don’t come cheap and were probably designed and manufactured by one of the premier wheel companies such as Vossen Wheels. Ever wonder why those wheels are so expensive (costing about several thousand per-set)? Or, what’s involved in their creation? Vossen shows us how it happens.
The process of making the wheels begin with the concept and design phase where engineers look for gaps in their product line and review market trends, which helps give them an idea on where to start. The engineers then turn towards what they term an ‘organic’ process where ideas are then sketched using paper, iPad or PC- whatever is at hand. It’s during this process that the design matches the aesthetics of the vehicle, adding to its distinctiveness rather than outshining it.
The engineers then take their initial wheel design, match it with the vehicle’s measurements, and pump the data into SolidWorks, where the geometry can be produced quickly and refinements made on the fly. This is the stage where engineering incorporate their signature Infini-Lip barrel, essentially making the hub diameter as small as possible without compromising bolt integrity, all while maintaining a seamless transition from the wheel face to the barrel.
Once all the measurements and refinements are complete, the design is thoroughly tested using SolidWorks Simulation ensuring TUV compliance, simulating cornering, and radial/impact tests for the specific vehicle each wheel is made for. Once testing is complete, the design undergoes additional refinements or moves on to the lengthy eight-step manufacturing phase, which begins with a large aerospace-grade 6061-T6 aluminum sleeve.
But before manufacturing can begin, CAMWorks is used to generate the machine’s tool path G-Code and ensure no errors will be encountered during machining. While this step is underway, the raw aluminum stock is turned on a lathe both inside and outside to create the wheels profile. Over 70% of the material is cut away during this process and, once finished, is sent on to the CNC Mill.
The Mill, which is precise enough to shave-away 0.02-inches of material per-pass, cuts the wheel into its final form based on the CAD/CAM data. In this process, the intriguing patterns are formed and angles are finalized. After the milling process is complete, the wheel then undergoes a lightening process, where any extra material is shaved off and holes are drilled in the back pads to further lighten the wheel.
Once the wheel has been lightened as much as possible without compromising its strength it then goes to engraving, where the wheels specs (serial numbers, load ratings, size, etc.) are cut into the aluminum inboard lip along with the Vossen logo. The wheel then heads to a final round of lathe turning to again, remove any excess material and to ensure the final run-out of the wheel is at the desired thickness.
At the end of it all, the wheel is inspected by quality control where it undergoes inspections for any defaults or imperfections. Once the wheel passes, it then undergoes the finishing step where they are given any number of colors and finishes based on their customer’s needs. Transparent and solid colors as well as ceramic and powder coatings are just a few of the offerings Vossen provides. To see more images and videos of the complete design or manufacturing process for Vossen Wheels head to forged.vossenwheels.com.