NOT ALL WHEELS ARE ALIKE

With 12 Brands, 120 mod­els, and 2,200 spec­i­fi­ca­tions, RAYS Engi­neer­ing in­fuses race data and tech­nol­ogy into each of their con­sumer line of wheels

Low Rider - - LUXURY EXOTIC - BY FER­NANDO GUZMAN

Search­ing for your next set of wheels can be cum­ber­some, but as your search con­tin­ues re­mem­ber one thing: Some wheels may look alike, but they’re noth­ing alike—par­tic­u­larly when it comes to qual­ity or con­struc­tion. Es­pe­cially in mod­ern times where the mar­ket is flooded with an in­flux of cheap knock­offs, the wheel mar­ket can be hard to nav­i­gate. To help bet­ter make that de­ci­sion, you’ll want to con­sider bud­get and style. But above all, be sure to find out how the wheel you want is man­u­fac­tured. By now rac­ing purists and fans of well-built wheels know all too well about RAYS Engi­neer­ing, the cre­ative force be­hind such brands as Volk Rac­ing and Gram Lights. With deep-seated roots in rac­ing, RAYS Engi­neer­ing is also the pow­er­house be­hind Volk’s in­fa­mous TE37. In­tro­duced in 1996, the TE37 re­mains a time­less clas­sic that is man­u­fac­tured us­ing only the finest ma­te­ri­als and ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses. The same strin­gent man­u­fac­tur­ing process to cre­ate the TE37 are the same ones ap­plied to ev­ery sin­gle wheel that comes out of RAYS Engi­neer­ing. In fact, RAYS does not al­low com­pro­mise when it comes to the qual­ity or safety of their prod­uct.

To en­sure this, they have equip­ment set up to ef­fi­ciently pro­duce highly ac­cu­rate and ho­mo­ge­neous pro­duc­tion for both forg­ing and cast­ing while their unique bench­marks (JWL+R) far ex­ceed tra­di­tional Ja­panese safety stan­dards. In ad­di­tion, their heavy in­volve­ment in mo­tor­sports ac­tiv­i­ties has put them un­der the con­stant de­mand to man­u­fac­ture su­pe­rior alu­minum wheels. Given the con­stant de­mands of the pro­gram, the re­sult­ing pressure is what has helped keep RAYS Engi­neer­ing com­mit­ted to their phi­los­o­phy of “The Con­cept is Rac­ing.” As man­u­fac­tur­ers of wheels for both mo­tor­sport ac­tiv­i­ties and road use, they each have their own spe­cial man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, but it is their goal to erase the line that di­vides them. Yet by re­mov­ing the bar­ri­ers be­tween mo­tor­sports wheels and road wheels, RAYS has helped elim­i­nate the sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween the two. Whereas many wheel com­pa­nies build strictly from a de­sign stand­point, RAYS Engi­neer­ing molds func­tion into fash­ion by cre­at­ing wheels they stand by. That said, here are some of the high­lights of their man­u­fac­tur­ing process and a glimpse into how they are able to cre­ate some of the world’s light­est and strong­est wheels.

JWL+R Ex­treme Test­ing

The JWL are strength stan­dards for safety, which ap­ply to alu­minum wheels dis­trib­uted in Ja­pan. There are, how­ever, sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween the ve­hi­cle per­for­mance, weight, and other at­tributes be­tween the time these stan­dards were es­tab­lished and to­day. As a re­sult, RAYS has de­vel­oped its own “+R” strength stan­dards to go above and be­yond the re­quire­ments and rig­ors of tra­di­tional JWL stan­dards.

Com­par­i­son of JWL+R Test­ing vs. JWL

• Ra­dial stress test: 800,000 ro­ta­tions (JWL: 500,000 ro­ta­tions) • Ro­tary bend­ing fa­tigue test: 150,000 ro­ta­tions (JWL: 100,000 ro­ta­tions) • 13-de­gree im­pact test: Drop height 255 mm (JWL: 230 mm)

JWL+R Spe­cific Test Cri­te­ria (A RAYS orig­i­nal)

• 90-de­gree im­pact (90-de­gree drop) test (drop height 100mm/ton) • Post-mod­i­fi­ca­tion drum test (800,000 ro­ta­tions) • Coat­ing per­for­mance test (spray­ing

with salt wa­ter, com­pos­ite cor­ro­sion, weather re­sis­tance tests, and so on)

Ma­te­rial Se­lec­tion

The en­tire man­u­fac­tur­ing process of RAYS Engi­neer­ing is en­cap­su­lated in Ja­pan but it’s their se­lec­tive process, tech­nol­ogy, and ma­chin­ery that shine. For ex­am­ple’s sake, TE37s are con­structed en­tirely out of alu­minum, but keep read­ing. Whereas other wheels have as much as 20 per­cent of other ma­te­ri­als, RAYS com­mis­sions its own A6061-T6 blend that specif­i­cally com­ple­ments its forg­ing process and re­sults in the spe­cific elas­tic­ity, stress strain, ten­sile strength, and fa­tigue strength they are look­ing for. All of that means that its pure-alu­minum con­struc­tion doesn’t just re­sult in a light­weight wheel, which, by the way, is pretty im­por­tant. Ac­cord­ing to RAYS, elim­i­nat­ing 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of un­sprung weight, like that from your car’s wheels, can be as ef­fec­tive as shed­ding 15 kg (33 pounds) of over­all ve­hi­cle weight. As it turns out, pure alu­minum also al­lows for in­creased rigid­ity as well as bet­ter ther­mal con­duc­tiv­ity, re­main­ing up to three times cooler than steel, re­sult­ing in bet­ter brake cool­ing and bet­ter over­all per­for­mance.

Forg­ing Ma­chine Exclusive

The in­tro­duc­tion of RAYS’ 10,000ton forg­ing ma­chine makes it the most pow­er­ful in Ja­pan. This al­lows RAYS to pro­duce wheels with di­am­e­ters as large as 22 inches, all the while giv­ing them the tech­nol­ogy to form ideal fiber flows in line with the par­tic­u­lar wheel de­sign. Along with RM8000 tech­nol­ogy, these ad­vanced tools and pro­cesses al­low them to form beau­ti­ful fiber flows by open­ing some of the dies prior to the fin­ish­ing process.

Pro­pri­etary Tech­nol­ogy–TAF (Tex­ture Ar­range­ment Fin­ing)

In its sim­plest ex­pla­na­tion, TAF is RAYS pro­pri­etary tech­nol­ogy that uni­formly re­in­forces the en­tire wheel by ho­mog­e­niz­ing the in­ter­nal structure of wheels through minia­tur­iza­tion. To do so, a ho­mo­ge­neously densely crys­tal­lized alu­minum al­loy brings an un­prece­dented level of strength and sur­face smooth­ness unattain­able by con­ven­tional man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Ad­vanced TAF

To­day, the main­stream tech­nol­ogy for re­al­iz­ing high-per­for­mance cast wheels is in­ner rim spin­ning (rolling) called “flow form­ing.” By ap­ply­ing knowhow gained from forg­ing and the RAYS cast flow form­ing (RCF) method be­fore any other man­u­fac­turer, RAYS has pro­duced many sports wheels that have over­turned con­ven­tional cast wheel con­cepts. Flow form­ing alone is not suf­fi­cient for man­u­fac­tur­ers to ad­ver­tise their wheels as truly light and strong, how­ever, be­cause the range of re­in­force­ment is lim­ited to the in­ner rim, the disc sur­face re­mains the same un­less fur­ther im­prove­ments are made. TAF is a new tech­nique for pro­duc­ing light, strong, beau­ti­ful cast wheels, which takes a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ap­proach from the con­ven­tional cast wheel pro­duc­tion method. The key word is minia­tur­iza­tion. Molten alu­minum al­loy is poured into a die, and the structure crys­tal­lizes as it cools and hard­ens. Usu­ally, the al­loy is al­lowed to cool nat­u­rally but molten alu­minum al­loys form finer crys­tals that join more solidly if chilled quickly. There­fore, RAYS in­vented their unique TAF method in which alu­minum al­loys are quickly chilled by wa­ter run­ning through in­nu­mer­able pipes in­set in the wheel die. This al­lows for finer crys­tals that join to­gether more densely in the rim and disc, thus in­creas­ing wheel strength. In turn, greater wheel strength has en­cour­aged RAYS to dar­ingly re­duce wheel weight, re­sult­ing in a truly high-per­for­mance, flaw­less cast wheel (Rcast) with an un­prece­dent­edly light and strong rim and disc. An­other ben­e­fit of minia­tur­iza­tion, not to be over­looked, is the con­se­quent smooth­ing of the wheel sur­face. Al­low­ing for a beau­ti­ful fin­ish af­ter pro­cess­ing en­sures that this is the most suit­able tech­nol­ogy for cast wheels. The TAF method is com­pleted by once again heat-treat­ing the wheels af­ter minia­tur­iza­tion in or­der to op­ti­mize their molec­u­lar structure. RAYS, never sat­is­fied with the sta­tus quo and al­ways striving to lead the world, con­tin­ues to in­no­vate in the realm of

Pro­pri­etary Firm Forg­ing

Although not as high pro­file as discs, high-per­for­mance rims are an­other of RAYS’ man­u­fac­tur­ing strengths. In par­tic­u­lar, RAYS’ cast flow form­ing (RCF) is an in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing method that light­ens and strength­ens the in­ner rim by spin­ning it—an in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing method that has taken cast wheels to the next level of de­vel­op­ment. For wheels with a two-piece structure, usu­ally sheet rims pro­duced by shap­ing alu­minum sheets into rims, RAYS uses its own in-house-de­vel­oped cut rims (VAIO-X rims) that are pro­duced by con­trol­ling rim thick­ness. This helps their con­stant ef­forts to re­duce weight across all wheel parts.

In­for­ma­tion is Power

Much like car man­u­fac­tur­ers, us­ing data com­piled from fac­tory race cars to use in fu­ture tech­nolo­gies for their con­sumer cars, RAYS has been ac­cu­mu­lat­ing, in­te­grat­ing, and an­a­lyz­ing var­i­ous data from the rac­ing pro­grams uti­liz­ing their wheels. That same data is re­flected in their lat­est strength and 3-D rigid­ify anal­y­sis, which in turn speeds up their de­vel­op­ment times. The same pro­gram al­lows them to iden­tify ar­eas of high stress con­cen­tra­tions while an­a­lyz­ing the spokes and how they af­fect over­all struc­tural rigid­ity. cast wheel pro­duc­tion as they do in all of our mar­kets.

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