McLaren P1 Getting World's First 3D-Printed Titanium Wheels, Built by HRE

 World's First 3D-Printed Titanium Wheels 5 photos
Photo: HRE Wheels/YouTube
World's First 3D-Printed Titanium WheelsWorld's First 3D-Printed Titanium WheelsWorld's First 3D-Printed Titanium WheelsWorld's First 3D-Printed Titanium Wheels
With Titanium 3D-printing having gained traction recently, the time has now come for the aftermarket wheel realm to embrace the technology. So while the said fabrication method has been used in fields like aerospace (satellites) and medicine (artificial skeleton parts), we can now talk about the first titanium 3D-printed custom wheels.
Developed by HRE Wheels together with GE Additive, the wheels are described as a prototype and while the wheel specialist is obviously planning to bring such items into production, no further details on the real-world plans have beeb released to date.

Instead, we received what seems to be a three-dimensional rendering of the McLaren P1 wearing the said shoes, as you'll get to notice in the piece of footage at the bottom of the page.

We're looking at design elements such as interlacing spokes and hollow areas, since the new technology brings plenty of fresh styling possibilities.

The prototype wheels we have here feature a six-piece construction, but the future should bring a monoblock setup.

Now, you might want to know more about the technological process behind the futuristic-looking rims we have here.

The process behind the build is called Electron Beam Melting. Unlike the traditional method of bringing forged wheels to the world, which relies on substracting material, the new process involves using an electron beam to melt and fuse layers of titanium powder together.

The resulting solid see the fine layers being created one at a time, with the build taking place on a bed of titanium powder, with the excess titanium powder being removed to make way for the final design.

We can also discuss temporary internal support structures, which are removed by hand and recycled afterward.

And while the standard CNC machining post-processing involves serious work, the amount of action required for mating surfaces and threads is smaller.

The exterior surface of the spokes were hand-finished for the visual effect and since titanium isn't prone to corrosion, no extra coating was required.

As for the final part of the process, this involved hand-assembling the titanium wheel center onto a carbon-fiber rim barrel using titanium fasteners.

Here's to hoping we get to see the titanium units in the real world soon.

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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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