Yesterday marked the first time that this blogger watched a seven-minute video about making a set of wheels. The 3D-printed conceptual wheels, the product of a collaboration between HRE Wheels and GE Additive add-ons, were worth it. Also known as "additive manufacturing", 3D printing for vehicles is not new, with BMW producing more than 1 million such parts so far. Titanium 3D printing has served the aerospace, as well as the medical field, illustrated by the titanium skull made for the dog's patches. This is supposed to be the first time 3D printing and titanium has come together to produce a wheel.
The standard production method of HRE for its forged wheels starts with a block of 100 lb aluminum and shaves this to an edge of 20 pounds. This project, called HRE3D +, aimed to produce an edge that was impossible to replicate with that or any other traditional method. Based on instructions from two of the company's production wheels, designers have created a new edge with three-dimensional interlacing grille. Half and half science fiction, the wheels look like they release wormholes and Hellboy villains.
GE boffins broke the wheel in five sections. resulting in a wheel of seven parts: five spokes, a middle section and the rim of carbon fiber. With the help of two Arcam Electron Beam Melting (EBM) machines, GE engineers built up each section using a titanium powder melted into a solid by the electron beam, resulting in "low-stress components with material properties better than cast and comparable to manufactured material."
With the manual finishing, the temporary heat and support structures that were needed during construction were removed. The remaining bits represented only 5 percent of the total material, compared to 80 percent of the forging process and can be recycled. The threads and mating surfaces are CNC-machined and then fastened to the rim with titanium fixings without powder coating or clear lacquer. HRE has not published the final weights, but on assembly the front wheel measures 20 x 9 inches, the rear 21 x 21.5 inches.
The concept rims are exhibited in Frankfurt on the Formnext fair until November 16th. We do not expect this to be the last we will hear from them, since HRE and GE Additive have entered into a partnership with "the future of the wheel" technology. "Though undoubtedly very expensive, we can already consider it as the hypercar of wheels. If Bugatti can work up a waiting list for the Divo of $ 5.6 million, these are the types of wheels that deserve such a car.