Here's how vehicle wheels are made in a factory

If you've ever wondered how wheels are made, then you're in for a treat.
Christopher McFadden

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Chances are if you own a vehicle of some kind, it will have at least a few wheels attached to its axles. While most of us take the things that attach the tires to our vehicles for granted, the process behind making them is actually pretty interesting to watch.

Let's track how some of them are made in a factory. 

car wheels complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 1: Making the rims

Car, or any other vehicle, wheels start life as a series of rolls of metal sheeting. Depending on the quality of the car wheel to be created this can either be rolls of steel, aluminum, or some form of alloy. 

Once a suitable material has been chosen and, of course, sourced, then the first step is to turn the steel rolls into rings of metal. This is done by a series of specialist machines that unwind the metal sheeting, cut it down to size, and roll/compress them into rings or cylinders. 

car wheels rings
Source: Interesting Engineering

To aid in the join, the ends of the steel sheet are welded together too. This is first done by hand as a series of spot welds but is then reinforced by a specialist welding machine to complete the weld.

The resultant cylinders will form the main part of the rim of the car wheel. While still hot, any excess metal and solder from the weld are removed, and the weld is ground flat using angle grinders. 

car wheels welding
Source: Interesting Engineering

With that done, the cylinders of metal are then placed inside another special machine to splay out the ends at either end of the cylinder. This is to give the rims the characteristic shape concave shape. 

This is done by placing the cylinders in a special press that pushes the cylinders between a pair of domed surfaces.

car wheels rims
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 2: Adding the spokes (if needed)

With the main rims now more or less complete, the next step is to begin to add the spokes to the wheels. This is first done by welding a series of anchor points around the inside surface of the rim. 

Once welded, the welds are cleaned up with the rim using a variety of tools. 

car wheels spokes
Source: Interesting Engineering

Where the design of the wheel requires it, the wheel hubs (and spokes) are also pressed molded, and prepared. 

Step 3: Treating the rims

Once the basic shape of the rim is complete, each rim is then given a quick clean using a specialist roller cleaning machine. The rims are then left to drip dry before being hung on a hook ready for the next phase of manufacture. 

While hung, each rim is coated in a specialist coating to increase its longevity and reduce wear and tear and the potential for rust. In this particular factory, this is achieved by dunking each rim in a bath of coating, before lifting them out to remove any excess.

Once coated, the rims and left to dry as needed. 

car wheels coating
Source: Interesting Engineering

For more intricate parts, human workers have used to spray-coat the rims as needed. 

Step 4: Completing the wheels

Once all the parts of the wheels are fully dry, the final assembly of each wheel can begin. Rims, hubs, and spokes are all brought together in one place and either welded together or affixed to one another using nuts and bolts. 

car wheels building wheels
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, valves are threaded into each wheel rim and secured into place using washers, etc, as needed. 

With that done, the car wheels are effectively complete. Now they can be packaged and stored ready for shipping out to the factory's customers. 

If you enjoyed watching how car wheels are made, then you might be interested in seeing another common everyday item being built? How about, for example, discovering how plastic bags are made

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