HRE Wheels and GE Additive unveiled the first titanium wheel created using electron-beam melting (EBM) technology, a type of 3D printing. With a traditional aluminum Monoblok wheel, 80% of material is removed from a 100-pound forged block of aluminum to create the final product. With additive manufacturing, only 5% of the material is removed and recycled, making the process far more efficient. Titanium also has a much higher specific strength than aluminum and is corrosion resistant, allowing it to be extremely lightweight. Known as HRE3D+, this new prototype wheel shows how advanced materials like titanium can be harnessed to create complex designs. The wheel was produced on two Arcam EBM machines in five separate sections then combined using a custom center section and titanium fasteners.
The goal of the HRE3D+ project was to test the capabilities of additive manufacturing in a practical application and to create a sophisticated wheel design with an elusive material like titanium. A design collaboration between the California-based team at HRE and the GE AddWorks team out of Ohio used design queues from two existing models of HRE wheels to create an example of what is possible with additive manufacturing.