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Alcoa Opens 3D Printing Metal Powder Plant
NEW YORK and PITTSBURGH—Alcoa recently announced that it has opened a state-of-the-art, 3D printing metal powder production facility at its Alcoa Technology Center, near Pittsburgh. The company reported in a press release that it will produce proprietary titanium, nickel, and aluminum powders optimized for 3D printed aerospace parts at the new facility, where it has invested in a range of technologies to further develop additive processes, product design, and qualification.
“Alcoa is forging a leadership path in additive manufacturing with a sharp focus on the critical input material—metal powders,” said Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld in a statement. “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.”
Metal powders used for 3D printing durable, high-quality aerospace parts are available in limited quantities. Through this expansion, announced in September 2015, Alcoa will develop materials with the specific properties needed to 3D print high-performance components.
The facility will form part of Arconic following 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, 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.
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.
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