HRE Wheels and GE Additive unveil 3D printed titanium wheel

HRE Wheels, a luxury and sports vehicle wheel manufacturer from California, has partnered with GE Additive to produce a new titanium 3D printed product. 

The new, lightweight wheel core, named Byanzantine after the powerful Eastern Roman Empire, draws on inspiration from other production model HRE components, and was made using two metal 3D printing systems in the GE Additive family.

Alan Peltier, HRE President said, “This is an incredibly exciting and important project for us as we get a glimpse into what the future of what wheel design holds.” 

The Byzantine wheel by HRE and GE Additive. Image via HRE Wheels
The Byzantine wheel by HRE and GE Additive. Image via HRE Wheels

Traditional wheel manufacturing

HRE’s wheels are usually produced using CNC machining. A one-piece wheel is carved out of a 100-pound block of aluminum, removing 80% of the material. In contrast to this, additive manufacturing has proved significantly more effective, as only 5% material used to make Byzantine is removed for recycling.

The wheel was manufactured under the HRE3D+ project, a collaboration between HRE and GE Additive’s consultation service AddWorks. It was produced in titanium using the Arcam Q10 and Q20 electron beam melting (EBM) systems.

The Arcam q20 EBM 3D Printer. Image via Arcam
The Arcam Q20 EBM 3D Printer. Image via Arcam

Revolutionizing the wheel design with 3D printing 

In total, Byzantine is composed of seven separate parts including five spokes, a carbon fiber rim, and a centerpiece. The pieces of the wheel are assembled into a single functional part with titanium fasteners. Two different sizes of the wheel were made in the project, one for the front, measuring 20 x 9 inches, and the rear wheel, 21 x 12.5 inches. Fitted on the hybrid McLaren P1 sports car, the wheels are completed by Michelin tires (though, thankfully, not 3D printed).

Robert Hanet, Senior Design Engineer, GE Additive AddWorks, commented, “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 revolutionize the way wheels can be designed and manufactured.”

GE Additive and 3D printing 

Lending its expertise to a wide range of customers, earlier this year GE Additive launched its Manufacturing Partner Network (MPN). Elsewhere, in the aerospace industry, GE Additive has attained Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for 3D printed parts aboard the GEnx engine. Recently, at Formnext 2018, the company announced that its automated Concept Laser “factory of the future,” the M Line Factory, will be commercially available in 2019.

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Featured image shows Byzantine, a titanium 3D printed wheel by HRE and GE Additive. Image via HRE Wheels.