Nov 15, 2018 | By Cameron

3D printing car parts isn’t especially new, but this 3D printed titanium wheel called HRE3D+ looks like it’s from the future. HRE, a performance wheel manufacturer, went to General Electric’s Additive AddWorks team to develop the first 3D printed titanium wheel. GE and its subsidiary Arcam have extensive knowledge of 3D printing capabilities and limitations, and HRE knows more than anyone how to make a good wheel, so there was a lot of collaboration on this project.

But there wasn’t a lot of waste. That’s because producing a wheel with 3D printing wastes only 5% of the total materials used, compared to 80% waste using traditional forge techniques. When a wheel is forged, it starts as a large, 100-pound block of metal, usually aluminum; in order to get a wheel that’s light and strong, most of the material is machined away. The majority of that material can’t be reused in the same way. Due to the amount of starting material required to make a wheel, forging one from titanium would be prohibitively expensive. Titanium has significantly better strength/weight metrics than aluminum as well as corrosion resistance, so it’s an ideal material for wheels.

Modeling for 3D printing brought a new level of freedom to the HRE designers as they didn’t have to worry about overhangs, tool depths, and cavities, and they could even include interlacing features. Size constraints meant that the wheel spokes were printed in several parts and then attached to the carbon fiber hub, which was not printed. But that’s only temporary; GE will soon have printers that will be able to produce the entire wheel as a single piece, further reducing time, weight, and material usage.

Arcam’s Electron Beam Melting is among the most energy-intensive additive manufacturing technologies, but it’s also one of the coolest. The process takes place in a vacuum at high temperature, producing stress-relieved parts with properties better than cast metals and actually more comparable to wrought metals. A powerful electron beam quickly melts cross sections of the part onto a bed of powdered metal (in this case titanium), with a new layer of powder being swept across the build area for each cross section; each cross section is sintered to the previous one by the beam, and the beam can maintain multiple melt pools thanks to Arcam MultiBeam. The part ends up buried in the powder and has to be blown clean, but nearly all of the un-sintered powder is reusable.

"This is an incredibly exciting and important project for us as we get a glimpse into what the future of wheel design holds," remarked HRE President Alan Peltier. HRE made this wheel mostly to demonstrate what is possible in their industry with a stronger adoption of additive manufacturing. And demonstrate they did because they could not have chosen a better car to accentuate their angled weave of titanium than the smooth curves of the McLaren P1. These wheels were obviously designed for curb appeal, so we don’t have any performance specs like weight, and there are currently no plans to sell the HRE3D+. Still, they served their purpose.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Dean wrote at 11/16/2018 5:32:37 PM:

I love articles like this: Showing what truly COOL things can be done with 3D printing. Beautiful Art and Hard Science combined!

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive