One of the most important inventions of all time, the wheel paved the road for modern transportation to be developed, as it enabled people to travel and move goods faster than before. Today, the wheel is still undergoing development to improve efficiency and performance. At Formnext 2018, for instance, HRE Wheels and GE Additive announced that they had co-developed the first 3D printed titanium wheel, the HRE3D+. Now, the wheel production expert has reinvented the 3D printed wheel. Or, more accurately, it has revealed a new and improved design for the titanium assembly.
The updated titanium wheel was brought to life in partnership with GE Additive, which provided a range of additive manufacturing technologies for the project, including Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM). The processes were used in combination to build the second generation HRE3D+ wheel from titanium.
The new titanium wheel is not only many millennia ahead of the first wheels ever invented, it is more sophisticated than its direct predecessor. That is, the upgraded design further reduces the weight of the wheel, from 20 and 23 pounds (for the 20 and 21 inch wheels of the first generation HRE3D+) to 16 and 19 pounds, respectively.
This weight reduction was achieved in part to part consolidation. Whereas the first generation wheel consisted of six parts, including a center cap and lug seat section holding the spokes against the vehicle, the second generation wheel consolidates the center area, bringing the total part count down to five.
Like the first generation HRE3D+, the new titanium 3D printed wheel reduces material waste dramatically compared to traditional wheel production methods. From around 80% titanium waste to just 5%.
“We’re proud to be breaking new ground in wheel manufacturing with the updated HRE3D+ wheels,” said HRE President and CEO Alan Peltier. “Working with GE Additive has given us access to some truly cutting-edge technology, and we’re exploring the future of wheel technology together with tools that will continue to evolve over the next few years. We can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish next.”
Other, less tangible, aspects of the wheel’s additive production have also seen improvements. HRE’s growing experience working with DMLM and EBM is leading to process refinements and higher production efficiency. Down the line, HRE Wheels even aims to 3D print one-piece wheel centers.
The second generation HRE3D+ titanium wheel is being showcased this week in Detroit at RAPID + TCT.