This week’s selection is the startling HRE3D+ 3D printed wheel by HRE Performance Wheels.
The wheels are produced through a partnership between HRE, a leading manufacturer of automotive wheels based in California, and GE Additive, one of the notable players in the metal 3D printing space.
The intricately designed wheels are not only great to look at, but they also carry some useful technical gains; HRE says the amount of wasted material developed during production of a wheel is only 5%, as compared to 80% when using traditional approaches. This results in a notable cost savings, as the titanium material used is quite expensive.
HRE says this second version of their 3D printed wheel is significantly less weighty than its predecessor, on average losing about 20% of its mass, depending on the size of the wheel. This weight loss also affects fuel efficiency, as a vehicle would expend less energy to turn the lighter wheel.
You might expect such a part to be 3D printed in one piece, but that’s not the case with the HRE3D+, as it is actually composed of five separate pieces that are bolted together afterwards. This does not affect the final strength of the wheel, as the design leverages the forces on the wheel.
3D Printing Titanium Wheels
HRE says GE Additive used two different metal 3D printing processes to produce the wheels; their DMLM process, in which fine metal powder is literally melted by a laser, and EBAM, where an electron beam fuses the fine particles together. This is a bit confusing, as their images seem to show the same parts being built with two different machine processes. Perhaps they used both.
The parts required some post-processing, including CNC milling flat any surfaces that were to mate with others, and threading holes for bolts. Some of the spokes were hand finished with a belt grinder to ensure a great surface shine.
Having seen these wheels in person I can attest to their amazing appearance. They’d look good on any vehicle, and especially the sporty car above.
As an example of the incredible designs made possible by 3D printing technology, this is perhaps one of the best.
Just don’t ask me what they cost.