The three basic elements of a wheel are the hub, the spokes and the rim. Sometimes these components will be one piece, sometimes two or three. The hub is the centre portion of the wheel and is the part where the wheel is attached to the suspension through the wheel carrier (or knuckle). The spokes radiate out from the hub and attach to the rim. The rim is the outer part of the wheel that holds the tyre. Steel wheels are usually pressed from sheet metal and then welded together. They are still found on many cars since they are inexpensive, durable and flexible, but also heavy.
In the beginning, aluminium wheels were generally marketed as optional add-ons or as part of a more expensive trim package. Today, however, aluminium wheels are found on more and more car models as standard equipment. The use of aluminium wheels on passenger cars did not start primarily as a lightweighting measure. Aluminium wheels were introduced for styling reasons, to give upper class or flagships models a distinctive personal touch. The forged aluminium wheel was invented by ALCOA in 1948.
In Europe, the success story of the aluminium wheel began with the development of the Porsche 911 in 1962. Porsche looked for a special wheel which should have outstanding qualities and present new dimensions, also visually. The forged aluminium wheel from OTTO FUCHS offered an attractive appearance. In addition, its low weight and thus the resulting reduction in the unsprung mass ensured also a superior ride quality. In the 1970s, cast aluminium wheels started to be factory-fitted to mass-produced cars. Aluminium penetration in wheels was in the year 2000 for European vehicles about 30 to 35%, compared to largely more than 50% in USA and Japan.
Today, about 50% of the vehicles produced on a worldwide basis use aluminium wheels, i.e. wheels are representing nearly 15% of the average aluminium content in passenger cars and light trucks. Some car manufacturers furnish over 80% of their production with aluminium wheels. In North America, the market penetration of aluminium wheels approaches 70%, in Japan about 60% and in Europe about 50%. Nowadays, the growth rate of the aluminium wheel market has slowed down, but the market volume is still increasing. The development of new, high strength steel grades and sophisticated manufacturing methods have enabled significant weight reductions for steel wheels and also allowed to meet the intricate aluminium wheel designs. Wheels have to provide critical safety functions and must meet high standards of design, engineering and workmanship.
Almost all modern aluminium wheels are made by one of two processes: casting and forging. Their performance is a direct result of the employed manufacturing technique. Whereas styling has been the main motivation for cast solutions, forged wheels are usually lighter and stronger, but also more expensive than cast wheels. Nevertheless, with proper attention to material quality and process control, cast aluminium wheels can be made to a high standard and provide many years of good service. Today, cast aluminium wheels are most common with a market share of more than 80% in North America, more than 90% in Europe and close to 100% in Japan.
In North America, the share of forged wheels is about 15%, in Europe only 5%. Increasing weight reduction requirements present a good chance for the further growth of forged aluminium wheels, despite their higher price. On the other hand, the lightweighting trend has also led to the development and application of more sophisticated casting methods as well as the consideration of fabricated solutions made using sheets and/or extrusions.
Many new developments are on the way to further reduce the weight of present aluminium wheels without sacrificing the styling advantages. An attractive compromise could consist of cast or forged central discs and subsequently assembled (mainly by welding) to extruded or rolled rims.
Automechanika Frankfurt is further expanding its range of tires and tire service expertise within workshop equipment. Visitors will find the entire spectrum of products and solutions in an incomparable depth and breadth of detail.
The workshops, the tire trade and the accessories trade benefit from the wide range of tire service exhibitions of the companies in halls 8.0 and 9.0. Among other things, there are also products that improve safety and ergonomics and optimize work processes when working with wheels. Also worth a visit: Hall 12, including the networked tire workshop.
Digitization, the networking and automation of data, communication flows with the aim of automating work processes and making them more efficient are also increasingly capturing work in specialist workshops. In 2018, the ASA federal association, together with asanetwork GmbH and Messe Frankfurt, showed at a special stand what is technically possible today in the “networked tire workshop”. The association takes the keen interest of the spectators at the last fair as an opportunity to hold the special show again in Hall 12 in 2020, but with a different stand layout. “This time Messe Frankfurt is providing us with an even larger stand area to show what has happened in digitization and networking,” says ASA President Frank Beaujean, who heads the project in his role as managing director of asanetwork GmbH. “Two years ago, many visitors had an eye-opening experience at our booth, because through the presentation they finally understood the advantages of networking data and information from workshop equipment with their own workshop management system,” says Beaujean.
The range of possible applications has expanded significantly through the exchange of measured values from brake test stands and exhaust gas measuring devices. “In principle, all applications in the workshop today in which data are read out or in which reference data are required for execution must be networked with one another. That is why we are constantly developing the asanetwork networking standard, ”says Beaujean. At the special stand in Hall 12, the association does not just want to show networking solutions that support the professionals in the tire workshop today. With the help of well-known ASA member companies, the spectrum of new services, such as the calibration of assistance systems, will also be shown at the ASA stand in Hall 12. In practice, automatic tire profit depth measurement should also explain. Tires, wheels and rims Tire / wheel repair and disposal, used tires and wheels, tire / wheel management and systems, sales facilities and storage of tires, accessories for tires, wheels and assembly, industry institutions, specialist publishers and training centers.
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