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Innovations

Selective Laser Melting

First 3D-printed one-piece wheel

The RONAL GROUP has produced a unique prototype wheel using selective laser melting: its “SLM Concept Wheel” is the world’s first tested one-piece 3D-printed alloy wheel.

The name “SLM Concept Wheel” comes from selective laser melting. Thanks to this toolless additive process, there are virtually no limits in terms of design, enabling extremely complex, yet stable forms. Details of mechanical production such as drilling, wheel bed contours etc. are discussed during configuration, and the finished design is printed as a plastic model. Based on the digital 3D design data, the wheel is then built layer by layer of fine aluminum powder (AlSi10), which the laser melts at pre-defined positions and connects to other layers. After all the layers have been applied, the wheel produced in the 3D printer can be removed from the powder bed. Any remaining powder is vacuumed up and recycled. All printed wheels undergo an x-ray check to rule out defects and material failure.

The “SLM Concept Wheel” has successfully been tested for use in road traffic in accordance with paragraph 30 of the German Road Traffic Registration Ordinance (StVZO) – the wheel even exceeded the requirements. With this concept, the RONAL GROUP demonstrates the technical feasibility and future viability of 3D printing for wheels.