CNET reports on a recent successful collaboration between HRE Wheels and GE Additive: “3D printed titanium concept wheels.” The HRE3D+ concept wheel, “which has spokes going through other spokes, was created using 3D printed titanium, allowing the wheel company to create a design impossible [to replicate] through traditional manufacturing methods like CNC machining alone.”
The HRE3D+ concept “was created from titanium powder and a type of 3D printing [known as] electron beam melting. An electron beam generates heat, which is used to form the powder into metal structures in a vacuum. Titanium likes to react with oxygen, so the vacuum [part] is especially [vital.]” Electron beam melting is “also being investigated for use in medical implant and aerospace manufacturing as well.”
In order to see the HRE3D+ come to fruition, the two companies had to print the wheel “in five distinct sections comprising the face of the wheel. Those five pieces were combined with a custom center section, all of which was eventually bolted to a carbon-fiber wheel rim using titanium fasteners. Some machining is still required, since its precision is unmatched and components like bolt holes need to be engineered to perfection.”
While still only a concept, the HRE3D+ speaks to great things on the horizon for 3D printing using titanium, even if this wheel concept was created merely for aesthetics. Still, the wheels do look quite amazing.
Image and Quotes Courtesy of CNET