GE Additive has partnered with HRE Performance Wheels on the production of what it states is the first titanium wheel manufactured using Electron Beam Melting (EBM) Additive Manufacturing. Known as HRE3D+, the prototype wheel is said to demonstrate the future potential of wheel technology and how advanced materials such as titanium can be used to create complex designs.
According to the partners, the goal of the HRE3D+ project was to test the capabilities of AM in a practical application, to create a highly-sophisticated wheel design using a potentially challenging material such as titanium.
In the production of a traditional aluminium Monoblok wheel, 80% of material is removed from a forged block of aluminium to create the final product. Using EBM AM, only 5% of the material is removed and recycled during production, making the process far more cost efficient. Titanium also has a much higher specific strength than aluminium and is highly corrosion resistant.
The project involved an intensive design collaboration between HRE’s staff in Vista, California, USA, and the GE AddWorks team in Ohio, USA. Using design cues from two existing models of HRE wheels, the wheel was redesigned for AM and produced on two Arcam EBM machines – the Q20 and Q10 – in five separate sections, then combined into one using a custom centre section and titanium fasteners.
Speaking on the results of the project, Alan Peltier, HRE President, stated, “This is an incredibly exciting and important project for us as we get a glimpse into what the future of wheel design holds. Working with GE Additive’s AddWorks team gave us access to the latest additive technology and an amazing team of engineers, allowing us to push the boundaries of wheel design beyond anything possible with current methods. To HRE, this partnership with GE Additive moves us into the future.”
Robert Hanet, Senior Design Engineer, GE Additive AddWorks, added, “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 revolutionise the way wheels can be designed and manufactured.”