Although they may look identical, there's a big difference between forged and cast aluminium wheels. Consumers need information to make an intelligent buying decision.
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Gravity casting involves pouring molten aluminium alloy into a wheel form and allowing gravity to do the work of filling the cast. This process is cost effective but creates the lowest grade of aluminium wheels available on the market. While still stylish and fully functional, wheels made by gravity casting are heavy and not nearly as strong as wheels made through other processes.
Low Pressure Casting
Low pressure casting is a step up in quality from gravity casting. In this process, molten aluminium alloy is pulled up into the cast by a vacuum. This removes air from the alloy that is left behind by gravity casting, creating a denser product. The denser the aluminium, the lighter the weight and the stronger the product. Low pressure cast wheels are highly desirable for those looking for a quality product at a reasonable price.
Forged Aluminum Wheels
Unlike the casting processes, the aluminium alloy used in forging is not molten or poured. The aluminium alloy is softened, creating what is called a "billet." The billet is then forced between two dies under enormous pressure. This forces out all air pockets and leaves a product that is dense, lightweight and much stronger than any cast wheel. The price of forged aluminium wheels reflects their quality and desirability.
Denser but Lighter?
In most cases the more dense a product, the more it weighs. But with wheels, the denser the aluminium, the less product is required to produce the wheel. A lower volume of aluminium equals a lighter-weight wheel. Lighter-weight wheels improve gas mileage and the car's overall performance.
Choosing the Right Wheel
Gravity cast aluminium wheels are fine if you don't drive your car often. They are inexpensive and will hold up for a long time under light use. For the vast majority of cars and trucks on the road, low pressure wheels will do the job. High performance vehicles and those used heavily will benefit from forged aluminium wheels. Although they are more expensive, they will draw the best performance from any vehicle.
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