HRE Performance Wheels and GE Additive have 3D-printed a titanium wheel and it could be the next big groundbreaking innovation in the development of performance-oriented cars. These new set of titanium alloy wheels called HRE3D+ are made using a special type of 3D printing called electron beam melting (EBM) that involves melting of titanium powered on each layer with electron beams.
The next generation 3D technology used here makes it possible to print complex shapes that are otherwise difficult to make using CNC machines. The final product (wheels made using this technology) are light in weight and also very durable due to the presence of titanium which is also one of the toughest metals on the planet. A report on Digital Trends quotes Patrick Moran, Creative Director, HRE Wheels says that the partnership between HRE Wheels and GE Additive focuses to showcase the capability of additive manufacturing in a practical application. This technology is widely used in the aerospace industry to make many components but is the first time performance wheels were created.
Currently, the company makes wheels made out of aluminium and the development process consuming a lot of time. There are also other limitations of using aluminium including in the design and the alloy material. Titanium, on the other hand, is stronger and less corrosive. The overall process is also claimed to be more efficient and ends up using only 5% of the material removed as against removing 80% aluminium from a 100 pound forged blocked of the metal.
Having said that, these 3D printed wheels currently exists only as prototypes and the company has not put a date of sale yet. The company will continue to test and develop this process with more tests.