HRE Wheels teams with GE Additive to create first 3D printed titanium wheel | 11/15/2018 | Staff
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3D printing car parts isn’t especially new, but this 3D printed titanium wheel called HRE3D+ looks like it’s from the future. HRE, a performance wheel manufacturer, went to General Electric’s Additive AddWorks team to develop the first 3D printed titanium wheel. GE and its subsidiary Arcam have extensive knowledge of 3D printing capabilities and limitations, and HRE knows more than anyone how to make a good wheel, so there was a lot of collaboration on this project.

But there wasn’t a lot of waste. That’s because producing a wheel with 3D printing wastes only 5% of the total materials used, compared to 80% waste using traditional forge techniques. When a wheel is forged, it starts as a large, 100-pound block of metal, usually aluminum; in order to get a wheel that’s light and strong, most of the material is machined away. The majority of that material can’t be reused in the same way. Due to the amount of starting material required to make a wheel, forging one from titanium would be prohibitively expensive. Titanium has significantly better strength/weight metrics than aluminum as well as corrosion resistance, so it’s an ideal material for wheels.

Printing - Level - Freedom - HRE - Designers

Modeling for 3D printing brought a new level of freedom to the HRE designers as they didn’t have to worry about overhangs, tool depths, and cavities, and they could even include interlacing features. Size constraints meant that the wheel spokes were printed in several parts and then attached to the carbon fiber hub, which was not printed. But that’s only temporary; GE will soon have printers that will...
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