Alcoa opens 3D printing metal powder plant

Alcoa has opened a state-of-the-art, 3D printing metal powder production facility, located at the Alcoa Technology Centre, in Pennsylvania. The Company will produce proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminium powders optimised for 3D printed aerospace parts. Alcoa has also invested in a range of technologies to further develop additive processes, product design and qualification.

Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa chairman and chief executive officer, said: “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.”

The plant is part of a $60million 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, the company will focus 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, then treats it using a traditional manufacturing process, such as forging. The process is claimed to enhance the properties of 3D printed parts, increasing toughness and strength versus parts made solely by additive manufacturing, and significantly reduces material input.

Airbus 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.

Author
Tom Austin-Morgan

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