Alcoa opens 3D printing metal powder plant in US

Alcoa opens 3D printing metal powder plant in US

9:18 AM, 8th July 2016
Alcoa opens 3D printing metal powder plant in US
Alcoa has opened its state-of-the-art, 3D printing metal powder production facility located at the Alcoa Technology Center, the world’s largest light metals research center.

NEW YORK/PITTSBURGH, US: Alcoa Inc has opened its state-of-the-art, 3D printing metal powder production facility located at the Alcoa Technology Center, the world’s largest light metals research center.

The company will produce proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminium powders optimized for 3D printed aerospace parts. Alcoa also has invested in a range of technologies to further develop additive processes, product design and qualification.

The facility will form part of Arconic Company following its separation from Alcoa’s traditional commodity business in the second half of 2016. The plant is part of a $60 million investment in advanced 3D printing materials and processes that builds on the company’s 3D printing capabilities in California, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.

In addition to producing powders, Alcoa is focused on advancing a range of additive techniques, including its recently unveiled Ampliforge process, a hybrid technique that combines additive and traditional manufacturing. Using the Ampliforge process, Alcoa designs and 3D prints a near complete part, and then treats it using a traditional manufacturing process, such as forging. The process enhances the properties of 3D printed parts, increasing toughness and strength versus parts made solely by additive manufacturing, and significantly reduces material input. Alcoa is piloting the technique in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Metal powders used for 3D printing durable, high-quality aerospace parts are available in limited quantities. Through this expansion, Alcoa will develop materials with the specific properties needed to 3D print high-performance components. Alcoa has deep expertise in metal alloy development having invented most of the aluminium alloys used in aerospace today. In addition, it has a 100-year history in aluminium metal powder production, primarily for rocket fuel, paint and other products.

Demonstrating its leadership in additive manufacturing, Airbus Group recently selected Alcoa to supply 3D printed titanium fuselage and engine pylon parts for commercial aircraft. Alcoa expects to deliver the first additive manufactured parts under the agreement later this year.

“Alcoa is forging a leadership path in additive manufacturing with a sharp focus on the critical input material—metal powders. We are combining our expertise in metallurgy, manufacturing, design and product qualification to push beyond the possibilities of today’s 3D printing technologies for aerospace and other growth markets,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa.

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