Today, billet wheels are quickly becoming the number-one choice for many custom truck enthusiasts. There are numerous reasons behind the growth of the billet wheel industry, but for the mini-truck side of the business, the main reasons are the custom backspacing and lug-pattern options that enable endless tucking possibilities, not to mention the possibility of one-off designs that can really set your mini-truck apart from the rest. The billet wheel was originally invented more than two decades ago. Boyd Coddington designed the first billet wheel in his home garage in 1979. This took the wheel industry to new heights and immediately opened the door for the custom-truck builder.
Rather than making this a history lesson, we thought it would be awesome to go behind the scenes and actually show you how a billet wheel is made, from the design concept to the finished product. This is by no means an easy process. Boyd Coddington employs nearly 50 people to handle the entire manufacturing process.
Let's start by defining the term billet, since it's thrown around (sometimes incorrectly) as often as the term cantilever. Billet simply means to take away from a solid chunk (or carve). So, if you make a little wooden sculpture, it is technically billet. Billet wheels are machined from a solid chunk of material.
First, a piece of aluminum alloy is produced (or bought from a vendor). Since this piece of stock is generally extruded, the grain runs through the stock much like the fibers within a single strand of wire. The stock aluminum is then sliced up into sections, which are machined down into either complete wheels or just wheel centers. Since they retain the grain structure of the extruded stock material, billet wheels are extremely strong. This grain structure, which is not present in a cast wheel, gives the final product a backbone and makes the wheel stronger without adding weight. Of course, billet wheels are also more expensive to produce because some of the original material is wasted and a lot of time is spent machining the original stock down to a finished wheel.
In reality, however, most billet wheels are generally billet centers that have been bolted or welded into stamped or spun rim halves. Entire wheels forged from a single piece of aluminum are generally one-piece forged wheels and don't offer the option and luxury of custom backspacing, wheel repair, and so on. Follow along to see exactly what goes into the making of a billet wheel. For more information, contact the company listed in the source box.
1.Once the phone rings at...
1.Once the phone rings at the sales desk and your custom order is placed, the making of a billet wheel begins.
2.The process starts with...
2.The process starts with a blank hoop and blank center.
4.The blank center is machined...
4.The blank center is machined to clean the wheel center and start with a fresh and even template.
5.Every single wheel is CAD-designed...
5.Every single wheel is CAD-designed and programmed into the CNC milling machines.