Each individual BBS product is the result of state-of-the-art engineering and the most innovative production methods. But it is also the essence of more than 35 years of experience in international motor sport and close cooperation with distinguished automobile manufacturers and European universities. This is the provenance that makes our products unique. And the enthusiasm for things that are special accompanies each of our development and production processes right up to the finishing. With only one goal in sight: the perfect result.
3D Computer Model
An initial three-dimensional implementation of the next-generation BBS light alloy wheel is created, based on first design drafts. Using cutting-edge technology, a creative idea is transformed into the concept for the subsequent serial production. The wheel prototype, which is designed on the computer, can be extensively tested using a wide range of simulation programs even before the initial prototype is produced.
Once the basic design has been uploaded to the computer and constructed, each subsequent detail can be simulated and modified within the scope of the development process. Using this 3D technology, it is possible to create a photorealistic model of the subsequent wheel model right on the computer screen. And this model can be adapted to any desired form – whether it is a two-tone paint job or a slight modification. When all the subsequent details have been determined for the production, they will be transferred into the CAD tool. Now the blueprint for the first real prototype is ready.
Each new BBS light alloy wheel begins with an idea. Based on the first design drafts for a product, design features can be developed to give the wheel its future identity while still corresponding to the typical BBS design language. One of these design constants is the characteristic BBS cross-spoke, whose different variations always find their way into the wheel arches of sporty automobiles the world over.
During the development of a new wheel model, optimizations in the construction can be carried out after the first prototypes have been built and the subsequent extensive testing. It is thereby a possibility that a wheel design is adapted, redesigned or even rejected. But one thing is certain, even at the initial draft for a new BBS light alloy wheel: when all the tests, simulations and prototypes have been completed, there will always be a new product and a final design.
The design of a new BBS wheel model is not merely the form, but also a selection of matching surface finishing and a unique and innovative color scheme. For this reason, all BBS departments work hand in hand even during the first development phases, to ensure that all production steps are at an optimum. In addition to our proverbial BBS quality, we also continuously explore new paths in painting to justify our reputation as an innovator in our field. As a result, various painting techniques are already tested on the first prototypes, to even give a new light alloy wheel a look that is fast and sporty.
In order to ensure the highest quality standards in production, the finishing touch is put on each individual light alloy wheel by hand in every machining and manual step. For example, all wheel models are manually deburred and excess material is removed by hand after casting, to adequately prepare them for the following work steps and to create the foundation for a perfect result.
There is a lot more to coating light alloy than just common powder coating. Even painting with lacquer – clear lacquer coating, as well as working with opaque colors – is a type of fluid coating. All types of coating used at BBS fulfill very practical purposes in addition to optical enhancement. Then by applying additional surface layers to our light alloy wheels, we achieve an improved surface seal, better corrosion protection and easier maintenance. It's the perfect basis for long-term driving pleasure.
A special finishing technique is used for some current wheel models: diamond turning. This entails clamping the respective wheel model on a rotating axis after the first painting step, and the outer paint and material layers are spun and thereby polished with a particularly sharp, precision diamond tool. Due to the grooved structure, which the tool imprints on the wheel, a special and intensive iridescent sheen is created on the wheel surface.
Finishing is done at the end of each production process for all our wheel models. But at BBS, finishing is more than just looking good. The job of the final surface treatment is particularly to optimize the material. With painting or attachment of a collision protection we create the basis for the long lifecycle of a BBS light alloy wheel. A final coat of clear lacquer preserves for the long-term. We achieve the same results for our painted wheel models with a multi-layer paint job with extremely impact-proof and tough water-based paints.
In addition to the classical method, where the inscription is included in the low-pressure casting process of the respective wheel model, inscription with a high-precision and powerful laser beam is carried out for individual wheel models. Using a vector-based template on the specified areas, material in the nanometer range is removed until the inscription becomes visible. The result is both innovative and long-lasting.
Only specially developed aluminum alloys are used for BBS light alloy wheels. And we aim for perfection right from the selection of the raw materials. Subsequently, these materials provide each individual light alloy wheel with its unique properties. More than 35 years of experience in motor sport and on roads around the world can be found in these alloys. For this reason, the exact compositions are still a closely guarded company secret, which only few employees have the privilege of knowing. In addition to the actual formulas, another decisive factor for the outstanding product quality is the precision control of the casting machines. Then the casting of a wheel forms the basis for its subsequent processing perfection.
Multi-layer Lacquer Finish
This surface treatment consists of a chrome-free conversion coating – also known as the passive layer – and a multi-layer lacquer finish. The multi-layer lacquer finish is extremely environmentally friendly, using water-soluble and powder coatings, which produce significantly lower solvent emissions. Particularly the use of powder coatings in horizontal application provides further advantages: the applied layer is thicker and differentiates from vertically applied coatings by its high level of uniformity on all areas of the wheel geometry. The structure of the top coat, which is twice as thick in total, substantially boosts scratch and corrosion resistance. This also ensures full winter performance for all BBS wheel models.
To produce a really perfect and long-lasting wheel, it is essential to have a top-quality casting blank. We use the low-pressure aluminum casting technique to manufacture this base for our light alloy wheels. This involves pressing the aluminum alloy into a multi-part mold with up to 2 bars of pressure. After it has cooled down to approx. 400 degrees centigrade, the mold is opened and the casting blank is transported to the initial material test on a conveyor belt. Low-pressure aluminum casting is an extremely sophisticated technology and requires that our employees have expert knowledge and be highly experienced.
We place great importance on the optimal texture of the surface of every BBS light alloy wheel. The reason being that a well-processed surface provides the greatest protection against corrosion, dirt and other external influences. That is why all surfaces of the wheel are multiply automatically sealed, to achieve an optimal surface structure and a protective finish. This also means that in addition to potential faults, not even the tiniest processing flaws are tolerated. Wheels, which do not comply with the high demands for perfection, are immediately pulled from the production process and melted down.
Flow forming uses hydraulic rollers to achieve greater density in the material structure for the rims of our light alloy wheels. The rim well of the over 300 to 350 degree centigrade hot wheel blank is kept in a continuous rotational motion under high pressure and at high temperatures, and subsequently rolled out over a cylinder in one work step. The equipment functions according to the principle of a potter's wheel to remodel the wheel blank. The desired result: a thinner wall thickness of the original rim and therefore a lighter weight wheel. In addition it provides optimally dense material structure and greater material strength.
Forging is a non-cutting forming process for material in a heated, solid condition. In order to generate the highest degree of material density and weight reduction at top performance from our high-strength and durable aluminum or magnesium alloys, they are further enhanced in a complex forging process. This entails placing the heated star hub or the entire wheel blank in a press and compressing it in several work steps at 5000 to 8000 tons of closing pressure to further densify the material in a special form known as a matrix. In between the individual work steps, the blank is repeatedly heated to approx. 400 degrees centigrade. As a result an optimal material structure is achieved particularly at the areas of high strain, the wheel can be dimensioned smaller, and is thereby lighter in weight.
To the extent possible, BBS applies the so-called dry processing principle for the surface treatment of all wheel models. Dry processing is a multiple award-winning special process by BBS. It entails dry-processing of the respective workpiece in a CNC milling or turning center using only an air and oil mixture. Aerosols are subsequently used for cooling. The advantage of this processing technique are primarily due to the elimination of the problematic oil and water cooling fluid, which requires costly and complicated disposal, and the option of directly returning the dry machining chips to the material cycle.
During the several hour long thermal treatment, the material properties of the subsequently produced wheel are precisely set. The thermal treatment of the casting blanks particularly enables the reinforcement of the aluminum alloy being used. It consists of three phases. Step one: solution annealing. This is done in compliance with DIN 1706 at temperatures of 480 to 550 degrees centigrade, depending on the alloy. It involves selecting a temperature at which a sufficient amount of the alloy elements are dissolved into a solid solution, to enable the strength of the alloy to increase. In the second step, quenching, the blanks are shock-cooled down to a temperature of approx. 70 degrees centigrade and are dormant in the third step, artificial aging, to achieve the desired strength values. This process requires absolute precision. If, for example, the specified maximum temperature for solution annealing is exceeded, the blanks become unusable for further processing and must be melted down again.
Lightweight construction or stability? Aerodynamics or brake cooling? Design specifications or production optimization? Durability or extravagant surface design? In order to achieve an optimal result, the solution to these conflicts of objectives are of elementary importance for the production preparation of a new wheel model. BBS uses cutting-edge analysis technologies daily to find new solutions for these challenges. All test scenarios, which could potentially provide a solution, are applied with special test pieces or prototypes from the pilot series. Every effort is made from the metallurgic analysis of the material to the load tests of the prototype, and on to the chemical testing of the selected coating formula.
With FEM analysis, done according to the "finite element method", the structural behavior characteristics of a new wheel model during the construction phase – for example in regard to strength or dynamics – are determined by computer and optimized. Using FEM analysis, the behavior of a wheel model can be simulated under real operating conditions and stress. This allows a design to be evaluated in advance, to counteract potentially discovered weaknesses by targeted measures and to identify material reduction potentials for an optimized power to weight ratio.
With computer simulation, it is possible to reduce the solution options for new challenges even before actual serial production begins. Final results are still determined by test benches. BBS has an extensive test field with all testing facilities for standard tests and specification sheet requirements, to simulate even the toughest road conditions. But even the in-house requirements at BBS significantly exceed legal requirements. Ultimately, each wheel not only needs to comply with ten times the legal test cycles in some cases, but also the extreme conditions of motor sport.
An overview of some test scenarios:
Rotating bending test
This test simulates the lateral force, which impacts the wheel when negotiating a curve.
For this test, the wheel is rigidly clamped to the test bench with a clamping ring on the inner rim shoulder and stressed with a rotating bending moment.
Biaxial wheel test bench
Using this test bench, BBS is able to simulate both the lateral forces and the normal forces, which actually impact the wheel from the vehicle. Using, for example, the "Nürburgring" or "Hockenheim" tests, BBS is able to take the full-scale racetrack into the lab and realistically test the relevant wheel models under the toughest conditions.
This test simulates the lateral impact when driving up to a curb. The outer rim shoulder of the wheel plus tire is repeatedly hit with a drop weight. No sudden loss of air may occur during this test.
Quality demands top performance and absolute precision. At the moment the production process begins, BBS places the highest value on top-quality raw materials, cutting-edge technical equipment, standardization of all processes, controls after each production step and highly qualified employees. This ensures that only products of first-class quality leave the production site. Certified by DIN EN ISO 9001 and ISO TS 16949, the international quality standards of the automobile industry.
BBS wheels are able to withstand multiple loads – in some cases up to ten times the load required by the European ECE regulations for wheels. In extensive load tests on both our own test benches as well as in long-term road use, all wheel models are required to stand the test at maximum load. Not only to be able to perfectly function on racetracks around the world under extreme conditions. But especially to provide maximum safety for everyday use on roads around the world and to ensure performance reserves if the situation should arise.
BBS not only sets the highest standards for all its products, but also for the entire production process. As a result, all production routines involved in producting a light alloy wheel are set up as a standardized module to ensure a perfectly interlocked production chain. It is also in compliance with the quality management systems DIN EN ISO 9001 and ISO TS 16949, which ensures perfect results and smooth workflows at the critical points of all areas of production.
Environmental protection is top priority at BBS. The production of BBS wheels is done in modern facilities, designed and planned for ecological operation in compliance with legal requirements. The facilities and production processes undergo continuous improvement, whereby saving potentials for energy, water and raw materials are developed and waste is prevented or reduced. Environmental protection and safety are integral elements of the BBS production philosophy.
BBS has received multiple certifications for the optimization of all processes throughout the company, including planning, the procurement of raw materials and further to production and global distribution. For example, with the prestigious DIN ISO 14001 certification for environmental management, the DIN EN ISO 9001 certification for effective quality management, and the international quality standard of the automobile industry, ISO TS 16949.