3D-printed titanium design is a world first.
One of the easier modifications you can perform on your car is to swap out the factory-installed wheels for a set of four aftermarket rims. While it's definitely possible to overdo it with oversized or tasteless design, a clean set of custom wheels can add a nice personalized touch to your vehicle.
If you're currently searching for new wheels and want to set yourself apart from the pack, you may be in luck. HRE Wheels has paired with GE Additive (a subset of General Electric) to create the first 3D-printed titanium wheels, the HRE3D+, sporting a fiendishly elaborate, artistic design.
Part of what makes the HRE3D+ so jaw-dropping is the layering effect, which sees several different spoke designs seemingly intertwined with each other. The visual complexity is achieved by creating the wheel in five separate sections—all 3D-printed—before connecting them via a custom center section. This structure is then secured to a carbon fiber rim by titanium fasteners.
Along with this layering effect, the 3D-printing process allows for the intricate latticework that has been chiseled into the HRE3D+'s titanium spokes. These elements combine to create an appearance that is reminiscent of the mechanical artistry found inside of high-end luxury watches.
The 3D-printing process was not just utilized simply for the aesthetic freedom it allows—there are functional benefits as well. When crafting a traditional aluminum "Monoblock" wheel, it begins life as a 100 pound forged block of aluminum before having 80 percent of its material carved out to produce the final design. This is highly wasteful: HRE and GE's new method is vastly more efficient.
By utilizing a process know as additive manufacturing, only 5 percent of material is wasted by removal. Using titanium also brings benefits—the metal has a far higher specific strength than aluminum and is resistant to corrosion. This permits the wheel to be extremely lightweight and allows HRE to display the design in its raw finish.
HRE has shown off its new wheels on a stunning McLaren P1, but we imagine they would look equally hot on a 720S. While the 3D-printing technology and additive manufacturing technique may restrict these designs to the upper echelon of customers for the foreseeable future, as the costs of these methods decrease over the next few years, look for these intricate designs to spread throughout the custom wheel market.