Wheels on a modern vehicle can come in a wide range of sizes and are now more intricately designed than ever before. Often an eighteen-inch diameter is the new normal, and manufacturers increasingly offer options relating to colour and finish, specifically for wheels.
One of the most popular finishes offered at the moment, particularly from manufacturers such as BMW and Audi, is the diamond cut. This is becoming increasingly popular with a wider range of manufacturers including Nissan and Ford.A diamond cut effect is created by taking a wheel that has first been painted and then placing it on a specialist wheel repair machine. The machine then cuts away a layer of the wheel and exposes the bare alloy underneath. From there the wheel is lacquered to prevent corrosion before being fitted.
Diamond cut wheels retain all the benefits of regular painted alloy wheels, such as reduced weight when compared to steel wheels, helping to provide better fuel economy and a better response time when driving. They are also typically more robust than steel as they are manufactured by forging or casting, making them more resistant to cracks and buckles that could be caused by the road surface. In general, alloy wheels can also help cool braking systems more efficiently as they allow more air to pass over the face of the brake disc and the calliper than steel wheels.
All wheels will take damage throughout their lifespan and diamond cut alloys are no different. As well as regular kerb marks they can be susceptible to water damage once the lacquer has been compromised. Because of this, you may find that on occasion they will need to be refurbished.
This is a specialist task that requires specialist equipment, namely a diamond cut wheel repair machine. Where traditional painted alloy wheels can be sanded back, filled with an item like chemical metal, rubbed down and repainted, or powder-coated, diamond cut wheels require a much more specific finish. The wheel must be placed in the specialist machine and turned down. This process involves the removal of more material from the wheel to expose an undamaged surface.
While it is possible to do this manually, most modern machines are Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC). A CNC lathe machine will save vast amounts of time as it can detect the surface of the wheel and then cut, achieving a perfectly even finish. Because the material is removed during the refurbishing process, diamond cut wheels can only be repaired one to two times (as a general rule). Beyond that, there will not be enough material left on the wheel to allow for more cutting. Once the wheel has been turned down, the exposed metal must then be lacquered and cured to prevent oxidation or other damage.
With the right wheel repair lathe, the turn around time for wheel refurbishment can be drastically reduced. Traditionally this can take up to a week but with modern equipment and techniques, it is possible to repair wheels in one day.