Unlike one-piece wheels, multi-piece wheels are put together after manufacturing to produce different results. Production is just as fascinating. Respect for the care and refurbishment of the wheels is paramount.
The hub can be cast or forged. The rim sections for 3-piece wheels are normally spun from disks of aluminum. These are then bolted to the hub and a sealant applied. They were developed for racing in the early 1970s and are now used especially in the 17″ and larger diameters. With this many pieces, special applications are possible, given the option of custom-tailoring the wheel.
Normally, the rims for 2-piece wheels are cast or spun. They then have their hub bolted, pressed or welded on. At the upper end of the market it is possible to find forged rim and hub 2-piece wheels. Otherwise, 2-piece wheels are less customisable, but given their simpler assembler, less costly.
Newer innovations in multi-piece alloy wheel construction have led to processes such as High Light Technology. This uses rollers to compress and elongate the material along the barrel of a low-pressure cast aluminum wheel to obtain the desired profile. Used in Formula 1, and extremely exclusive applications, the wheel is similar to a forged wheel. For performance wheels, the benefits are obvious. A dramatic reduction in wheel weight with enhanced structural rigidity means that the wheel becomes the ultimate alloy.
The ultimate in alloy wheels deserve the ultimate in care. Looking after such precision parts of your car includes refurbishing these precious components.