Titanium is the favorite metal of the aerospace industry and hiking enthusiasts all around the world, due its lightness and resistance to corrosion. It also remains an expensive material to work with, not only because of , but also due to its strength and high melting point, both of which make it or machine compared to conventional metal alloys.
Cost and complexity are the main reasons why the automotive sector uses magnesium and aluminum alloys when looking to save some unsprung weight, with carbon composite wheels also gaining popularity lately. But now there's a new technology that promises to make lighter, stronger wheels out of titanium.
HRE Wheels is mostly known for its custom monoblock alloy wheels, but now, the company has teamed up with GE Additive to create a 3D-printed titanium prototype wheel. The new HRE3D+ wheels were made using , which melt titanium powder layer by layer using electron beams, thus "printing" very complex shapes that would be impossible to create using CNC machining.
HRE says that this 3D-printing process than machining, as well as more efficient: while a standard aluminum wheels starts out as a 100-lb forged block before the tools shave off 80 percent of its material, this additive process only requires five percent of the metal to be removed after printing, which then can be recycled.
The resulting 3D+ titanium wheels are made of five individual pieces, with a custom center section and a carbon fiber rim. Titanium fasteners hold these layered spokes together, with the completed wheel looking like nothing on the market today.
Especially when installed on a McLaren P1, the most alien-inspired hypercar of them all.