The Volk Racing TE37 wheel is one of the finest aftermarket wheels ever conceived. Behind its clean design is a legendary combination of strength and lightness that justifies its seemingly high cost. And its maker, Rays Engineering, isn’t some fly by night shop; it’s a true engineering firm that creates wheels for OEMs, Formula One racers, and Le Mans endurance cars. A new video shows just what goes into turning a disc of raw aluminum into one of these rolling works of art.
The process is downright mesmerizing. Hunks of solid billet aluminum are heated to 930°F and forged in three separate dies. With each one the wheel takes more and more shape under pressure of about 5 tons per square centimeter. Not only does the die forging result in the wheel’s form, but the process even pushes the grain flow of the aluminum in directions that ensure uniform composition inside.
Equally impressive are the various machine tools that roll, stretch and shape the inner rim. The aluminum is sculpted like a piece of spinning pottery clay, except its insanely hot top-quality aluminum. The video says the machining that forms the face design is accurate to 1/1000 of a millimeter. The tools that perform the PCD drilling, trimming of rough edges, and knurling are all hypnotic to watch, even if when the heads are censored to protect trade secrets.
Many parts of the process are patented. And during testing, Rays goes far beyond the minimums required by the JWL standards that govern all wheels made in Japan. For example the JWL standard requires 500,000 rotations for radial fatigue tests, but Rays’ own “+R” standard doubles it to 1,000,000.
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that at the end of a procedure that demands ultra-fine computer-controlled mechanical precision, the final inspection is still conducted by a white-gloved human and an old school grease pencil. Rays says that each craftsman has to have years of experience under their belt in order to serve this role. It’s a thoroughly impressive video, similar to the BRIDE seats factory tour footage from 2021. If nothing else, it’s proof that entrusting your car to knockoff wheels isn’t worth it.