American Force - Made in America, by CNC
I’m definitely a big fan of knowing how things are made. I’ve been curious about that type of thing for as long as I can remember; I’m just a generally curious kind of guy. However, from a hard-core investigative standpoint, I wasn’t (and I’m still not) the type of dude who takes brand-new things apart just to see whether I can or can’t reassemble them.
Sure, like any adept mechanic, I’ll deconstruct something for the purpose of making repairs—especially things I’m already fairly familiar with. However, over the years, I’ve learned that maintaining a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” perspective on such things can surely alleviate headaches that come with not being able to put various Humpty Dumptys back together again.
One of the things that amazes me about the way a majority of today’s truck (and automotive) parts are manufactured is the widespread use of CNC machines, which, in some instances, work around the clock and are used for creating many of the metal-based, aftermarket components for diesel-powered vehicles. Believe me, there once was a time when the mere thought of such a process (using computers to control machinery) ever existing was viewed as total fantasy.
That’s right. Back in the days, highly skilled machinists and manually operated lathes and mills were responsible for doing the same precision metal crafting CNCs now handle. The work was done “by hand,” if you will, and sometimes required several days to make just one piece (from start to finish)…a far cry from the minutes, or low number of hours it takes for computer numerical control (CNC’s formal name) lathes, routers, grinders, and such to create sometimes hundreds of parts (depending on what the part is, of course), in a one-day timeframe.
In May 2016, I had an opportunity to watch American Force Wheels’ CNC machines crank out all kinds of custom rolling stock at the company’s spacious (60,000 square feet) new digs in Miami, Florida.
From a hoop and a round disc of forged 6061-T6 aluminum (that eventually becomes the custom center) comes some of the most intricate and detailed wheels on the road, thanks to CNC machines. I was permitted to take pictures during my visit. Here’s a quick photo synopsis of how American Force produces its wheels, right here in the U.S
Inside a new Miami, Florida, location that covers 60,000 square feet sits American Force Wheels’ manufacturing center, a room featuring eight CNC machines that handle every task of the custom-wheel-making process.
If you’re not familiar with American Force, check out its website, americanforcewheels.com. Wheels are conceptualized first, using the computer-aided design (CAD) process. After that, wheel blanks are turned in a CNC lathe to achieve the correct diameter, width, and offset (per customer’s requirements). The centers for each American Force wheel start as individual forged discs of 6061-T6 aluminum (also called “blanks”). A CNC mill is then used to create the desired design, center bore, and bolt pattern.
Once wheels are assembled, they undergo high-speed polishing by a computer-programmed machine first, then they receive a thorough inspection and buffing by hand to bring out their final bling.
American Force wheels. Ready to be put in a box and shipped to the customer who ordered them.