When it comes to manufacturing car rims on which the tire will later be pulled, the creative possibilities are limited. First and foremost, the component should be able to withstand a high load and be resistant to wear and tear. Once these properties have been ensured, the designers can focus on developing a stylish look.
Nevertheless, the engineers at thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg were able to develop a concept for designer wheels made of steel that will break new ground both technologically and visually. They accomplished this with hot forming.
This procedure is standard in body construction, and has now been applied to the chassis. After all, hot forming makes it possible to manufacture many complex geometries as well as high-strength components.
Hot forming also carries an additional major advantage: Thinner material can be used, which allows for 20 to 30 percent savings in weight as compared to conventional steel rims.
“Most of these steel wheels are only designed with functionality in mind – they just need to be inexpensive and fulfill their function,” says David Pieronek, who is responsible for wheel research and development at thyssenkrupp Steel in Duisburg.
That’s why steel rims are as lightweight as possible. When it comes to aluminum rims, though, appearance is key – the brighter, flashier, and more highly decorated their design, the more popular they are. However, this also means adding more weight to the vehicle.
Hot forming, the method used to create steel rims, has a further advantage; since it’s widespread among automotive manufacturers and suppliers, the corresponding tools are typically available.
Steel rims create modular design wheels
The thyssenkrupp Steel forming specialists rely on a modular design to get the lightweight steel wheel into shape. This means that the wheel consists of two components: a uniform base carrier comprising the rim and an additional design shell, which creates a cool look. The wide spoke rim of the outer shell raises the appearance of the steel wheel to a whole new level.
Dr. Yu Sun, head of Regional Business Development at thyssenkrupp Steel, and project manager Matthias Hein were able to win no less than China’s market leader for steel wheels as a partner for implementing the new technology: Jingu Wheels with a registered office in Hangzhou.
Ansteel, which is already cooperating with thyssenkrupp in the Tagal joint venture, will supply steel products. In addition to the clever, patented modular concept, expertise in hot forming and lightweight construction is also decisive for the innovative joint project that paves the way for the future.