Using 3D-printing for car components is nothing new, but putting 3D-printing, titanium and wheels under the same creation is indeed some kind of novelty. HRE Wheels has partnered with GE Additive to create the first 3D-printed titanium wheel that could be available to the market in the near future.
Using the Electron Beam Melting (EBM) technology, the HRE3D+ prototype wheel is created by having an electron beam melting and fusing titanium powder together as fine layers. These layers are built up one at a time to form the solid block of spoke. The 3D-printing method is highly efficient as only 5% of the titanium material is removed but can be recycled, compared with the 80% removal rate in the traditional aluminium wheel making. Titanium is also light, strong and corrosion resistant, so it can be shown in its raw finish.
Each 3D-printed wheel is composed of seven parts: five spokes, a centre section, and the carbon fibre rim; and is finished and assembled by hand. For demonstration purposes, HRE has fitted the prototype wheels onto a McLaren P1, transforming the hypercar into some sci-fi looking machine. It would be interesting to see 3D-printed wheels become widely available with different or even custom patterns being created.