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Driving technology forward with 3D printed titanium wheels

15 November 2018

HRE Wheels and GE Additive unveiled the first highly-sophisticated titanium wheel created using EBM technology, a type of 3D printing.

Image courtesy of HRE Wheels

Known as “HRE3D+”, this new prototype wheel shows what the future of wheel technology will bring and how advanced materials like titanium can be harnessed to create complex designs. 

The goal of the “HRE3D+” project was to test the capabilities of additive manufacturing in a practical application and to create a highly-sophisticated wheel design with titanium. 

With a traditional aluminium Monoblok wheel, 80 percent of material is removed from a 100-pound forged block of aluminium to create the final product. With additive manufacturing, only 5 percent of the material is removed and recycled, making the process far more efficient. Titanium also has a much higher specific strength than aluminium and is corrosion resistant, allowing it to be extremely lightweight and to be shown in its raw finish. 

There was an intensive design collaboration between the Vista, California based team at HRE and the GE AddWorks team out of Ohio. Using design queues from two existing models of HRE wheels, the two companies worked together to create a stunning example of what is possible with additive manufacturing. 

The wheel was produced on two Arcam EBM machines – Q20 and a Q10 in five separate sections, then combined using a custom centre section and bolted to a carbon fibre rim using titanium fasteners

"This is an incredibly exciting and important project for us as we get a glimpse into what the future of wheel design holds,” said HRE President Alan Peltier. “Working with GE Additive’s AddWorks team gave us access to the latest additive technology and an amazing team of engineers, allowing us to push the boundaries of wheel design beyond anything possible with current methods. To HRE, this partnership with GE Additive moves us into the future.” 

Robert Hanet, senior design engineer, GE Additive AddWorks stated, “HRE prides itself on its commitment to excellence and superior quality in the marketplace. It was a natural fit for AddWorks to work on this project with them and really revolutionise the way wheels can be designed and manufactured.”

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