Apr 7, 2016 | By Kira

Alcoa Inc., global leader in lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing, today announced a major agreement with Airbus Group to supply 3D printed titanium fuselage and engine pylon components for Airbus’ commercial aircrafts by mid-2016.

Airbus has made no secret of its interest in advanced additive manufacturing. Just last month, the massive aircraft manufacturer announced its plans to 3D print half of its future airplane fleet in the coming decades, and has been investing in several 3D printing companies with the technology to make that a reality.

It makes sense then that Airbus would seek to align itself with Alcoa, which itself has been taking major steps to increase its expertise in the metal additive manufacturing industry, and specifically, in the 3D printing of aerospace components.

Last year, Alcoa began by acquiring RTI International Metals to grow its multi-material aerospace and automotive portfolio. Now known as Alcoa Titanium & Engineered Products (ATEP), this acquisition allowed Alcoa to expand its additive manufacturing capabilities to include 3D printed titanium and other speciality metal parts.

At the same time, Alcoa invested $22 million into Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology, which strengthens the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts made from titanium and nickel based superalloys. Through that strategic investment, Alcoa now operates one of the largest aerospace HIP technology complexes in the world, located in Whitehall, Michigan.

Finally, in September 2015, Alcoa invested a whooping $60 million into yet another expansion, this time focusing on the research and development of advanced 3D printing materials, including metallic powders. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Alcoa Technical Center is considered the world’s largest institute for light metals research. The company has also been working alongside fellow metal 3D printing specialist Norsk Titanium in related aerospace projects.

Following this period of rapid growth, Alcoa announced that it will be separating into two Fortune 500 companies in the second half of 2016, with its spin-off Arconic focusing on the production of multi-alloy manufactured goods for the aerospace and automotive sectors.

Through all of this investment and expansion, Alcoa has firmly established itself as an authority in nearly every aspect of metal additive manufacturing, from materials science leadership and production, to advanced 3D printing processes, to aerospace parts qualification. Airbus couldn’t have found a more comprehensive collaborator to make their 3D printed aircraft dream a reality.

“We are proud to partner with Airbus to help pave the way to the future of aerospace development and manufacturing,” said Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld. “The unique combination of our multi-material alloy development expertise, powder production capabilities, aerospace manufacturing strength and product qualification know-how position us to lead in this exciting, emerging space.”

Though the terms of Alcoa and Airbus' agreement were not disclosed, today’s deal follows a $1 billion deal between the two companies in October 2015, in which Alcoa agreed to manufacture bolts and fasteners, which now fly on every Airbus platform. At the time, that deal was recognized as Alcoa’s largest contract ever with the aircraft manufacturer.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Kero wrote at 5/31/2016 1:03:55 PM:

It’s fascinating to think that 3D printed titanium parts and other parts could be used in an airplane. This technology can change our manufacturing so profoundly!

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