Titanium Wheels by HRE3D and GE additive
A smarter, greener and adaptive infrastructure is crucial to address the most pressing challenges of urban mobility and development. A lighter automotive component made up of less number of parts indirectly reduces the car’s carbon foot print.
“Byanzantine”, a breakthrough development in the area of wheel related developments, draws its name from the powerful Eastern Roman Empire, was on display at Formnext 2018, Frankfurt. The wheel was born as a result of collaboration between HRE Wheels, a luxury and sports vehicle wheel manufacturer from California and GE Additive. The wheel is made of Titanium.
A traditional wheel made of aluminium is made by machining, resulting in huge material losses. HRE’S new wheel is made of Titanium which is lighter in weight, and offers high specific strength corrosion resistance. Generally Titanium is not preferred because it is difficult to process and the process results in wastage (Titanium is an expensive metal). Owing to the Arcam Q10 and Q20 electron beam melting (EBM) systems, the wheels were printed with minimal material usage. The advantage of electron beam based developments is that it allows near net shape processing. Only 5% material used to make Byzantine is removed (which can be recycled).
This highlights an unexplored application of additive manufacturing – the wheel. It is possible to 3D print wheels, while exploring materials that are light in weight. With 3D printing it is possible to print complex designs as a whole rather than many parts with joints. This results in consumption of less energy when the car is in motion. It helps save fuel and reduces the wear and tear of tyres.
While Titanium is an expensive material, it also offers some properties that are of importance in sports racing cars. The ability of printers to develop wheels with Titanium, presents a unique opportunity that can lead to changing the conventional processes that are currently followed to develop wheels.
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