CLUB OF CAR FANS
Many believe that alloy wheels are made exclusively "for the show." In fact, they are able to significantly change the behavior of the car.
The main thing is not to make a mistake in choosing.
The smoothness of the car depends on the ratio of its sprung and unsprung masses. In other words, the lighter the wheels, bridges, levers, and other elements that gallop along the potholes of the road, the softer the body swims along them. You can change the mass balance in favor of comfort, of course, by loading ballast into the car, but at the same time, the dynamics will proportionally worsen and fuel consumption will increase. It is much more beneficial to reduce unsprung mass. A significant part of it is precisely the wheels. Lightweight, which means a less inertial wheel more accurately tracks the terrain, spares the shock absorber and spring, and as a result, comfort and handling win. In addition, it will most likely stop during braking and spin up during acceleration. This means that the dynamics and efficiency are improving.
But weight cannot be reduced to the detriment of strength. And for stamped steel wheels, the reserves along the way seem to run low. The next step is casting. The production of such discs is technologically advanced and almost waste-free - the machining of castings is minimal. But these products are quite fragile - from a strong blow can crack. It is necessary to increase the wall thickness to the detriment of the desired gain in weight. Yes, and aluminum (less often - magnesium) alloy, having tasted road salt, corrodes and melts right before our eyes without reliable protection, turning into dust.
Another way to lose weight is forging (the official name is hot die forging), which gives the strength of steel alloy wheels to light alloys.
At the Stupino Metallurgical Plant, one of the world's largest manufacturers of forged wheels, they have been made for a long time, but mainly for the needs of aviation. Conversion forced to descend from heaven to earth. At the initiative of the current general director (at that time - the head of the workshop) Evgeny Nikolaev in 1990 began to produce wheels for cars. But to “legalize” the new direction was not easy: to coordinate the drawings, obtain approvals, approvals and all kinds of certificates … After all, car and aircraft wheels work, to put it mildly, in different conditions. Not enough equipment. The decision was made by the Aviationtechnology Research and Production Association, created in 1991.
Nobody really calculated the "wheel" project then - they worked by intuition. The high demand for similar products from the All-Union Institute of Light Alloys (VILS) was encouraging. Success exceeded all expectations. The first advantages of wheels with the AT brand were rated by athletes. And not only ours. Stupins managed to “shoe” even Formula 1 cars! Forged magnesium disks in 1995–1996 were ordered by the Italian company Speedline. After minor refinement, they were put on the Jordan team cars. The Americans included the wheels from "Aviationtechnology" among the 150 best wheels in the world. And in 1998, they won the Japanese championship in circuit racing. This victory was awarded the big prize at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Following international recognition, demand also appeared in Russia. Since last year, deliveries to the domestic market have increased. And already in July 1999, the Stepinsky disks became laureates of the national contest "Russian Brand".
Such high quality is the result of a carefully debugged production process. The initial billet is a cylindrical ingot heated to 470 ° C. First, a giant press with an effort of 10 thousand tons in one motion flatters it into a pancake. Then it is crushed in a mold, getting at the output a kind of wheel. After forging - quenching (heating to 500 ° C, hour exposure and cooling in water). Then, to relieve internal stresses - artificial aging - exposure at 175 ° C. The "aged" batch is sent for machining. There, future wheels are grinded, milled and, after manual tuning, painted with powder enamel. The most popular color is silver, but can be made to order even to the tone of your tie. The last step is checking the balance. Not balancing, but just checking, because according to the technology, the wheel should immediately turn out to be “correct”.
By this time, the wheel is "losing weight" to four kilograms. "Extra" ten turn into shavings and go into remelting.
The Stupins are defenders, and the quality control of even civilian products is not inferior in severity to military acceptance. Input, output and intermediate control - at every step. For example, several samples from each batch are cut into pieces and sent to the laboratory. They determine the physical properties of the material, its spatial structure - the location of the alloy fibers in the cross section of the product. Finished wheels are measured in forty-five (!) Parameters. The card, which reflects the entire process of the birth of the wheel, which, incidentally, receives an individual number, is stored for ten years - you can easily find out who “sewed buttons”. Previously, the “pedigree” was written only for export products. But for two years now, there has been no difference between “ours” and “foreign”.
Wheel construction and design - own. They are closely linked to technology and durability. On one of the latest models, the “rays” of the disc go completely to the front shelf of the rim. It turned out beautifully - the wheel seems to be an inch larger than the true size. But this is a side effect, the main thing is the best tire protection for lateral contacts: now, the main force here is taken by rigid ribs. This is an original solution prompted by athletes. They advised to refuse decorative covers for the central part. The validity of the idea will be appreciated by those who have already had to pick out the completely frozen decoration in the winter.
“AT”, unlike others, does not sell complete with a wheel extended bolts or nuts with a movable conical part. All products are designed for standard fasteners - the strength of the forged metal guarantees reliability.
In the automotive industry, it is customary to center the wheel along a special belt on the hub. AT does it differently. Indeed, for many models, the wheels differ only in the size of the central hole for this same belt. If you make it as large as possible, then the same drive will be suitable for a variety of cars. And you can center the wheel on the cones of bolts or nuts. True, they will have to be manufactured with high accuracy, but the “defense industry” is not a curiosity.
Aviation Technologies products are not consumer goods, but rather exclusive. The wheels are forged in small batches, but of different types. Today, there are about forty of them in production, ranging in size from 12 to 22.5 inches, moreover available to ordinary motorists: the cost of a 13-inch wheel from an authorized dealer of Condor-Auto LLC is about a thousand rubles. They also make motorcycle wheels (by the way, the only forged wheels in the world!). The technology is such that you can switch to the release of another model within one shift.
Who are the forged wheels for? For those to whom the car is only a “vehicle”, full-time ones will fit perfectly. In extreme cases, the shame can be covered with decorative caps. For lovers of spectacular design and hairless looks from the sidewalk, "casting" is suitable. This technology allows you to embody the most incredible ideas of the artist in metal. Forged wheels - for athletes and gourmets. And also for those who are not too rich to buy cheap things.
Billet - “pancake” - “pan” - disk.
It remains to remove the excess metal.
Bends, but does not break.