Aluminium major Alcoa announced today that it has reached an agreement with France’s Airbus SAS to print three-dimensional printed titanium fuselage and engine pylon components. According to the news release, Alcoa expects to ship the first parts under this contract later this year. Further details of the agreement were not disclosed by the company.
“We are proud to partner with Airbus to help pave the way to the future of aerospace development and manufacturing,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “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.”
Alcoa indicates that Airbus chose the firm due to its comprehensive capabilities. Alcoa says the contract will utilize the firm’s prior aerospace experience and the recent acquisition of RTI International Metals [now known as Alcoa Titanium & Engineered Products (ATEP)]. The addition of ATEP grew Alcoa’s additive manufacturing capabilities to include three-dimensional printed titanium and other specialty metal parts.
Alcoa will employ advanced CT scan and Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) capabilities at its advanced aerospace facility in Whitehall, Michigan, which was a product of the firm’s organic expansion. According to Alcoa, HIP is a technology that strengthens the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts made of titanium- and nickel-based superalloys. The facilities at Whitehall are the product of a US$22 million investment in the technology, which made the facilities one of the largest aerospace HIP technology complexes in the world.
Alcoa is also investing US$60 million to improve its additive manufacturing capabilities by expanding its advanced 3D-printing materials and processes, including metallic powders. The expansion will take place at the Alcoa Technical Center outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which, according to the company, is the world’s largest light metals research center.