Arconic and Airbus partner to advance 3D printing for aerospace
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The agreement will enable the duo to produce and qualify large-scale 3D printed Airbus airframe components.
Arconic and Airbus announced a multi-year cooperative research agreement to develop customized processes and parameters to produce and qualify large, structural 3D printed components. The agreement will allow Arconic and Airbus to design and develop pylon spars and rib structures, up to approximately 1 meter (3 feet) in length, to be used in Airbus aircraft.
The deal combines Arconic’s expertise in metal additive manufacturing and metallurgy with Airbus’s design and qualification capabilities, building on its experience with regulatory agencies for certification.
Under this agreement, Arconic will use electron beam high deposition rate technology to 3D print parts. This technology is suited to produce larger aerospace components because it prints them up to one hundred times faster than technologies used for smaller, more intricate parts.
In addition, Arconic will demonstrate the benefits of its proprietary Ampliforge process, which combines traditional and additive manufacturing. The Ampliforge process treats a near complete 3D printed part using an advanced manufacturing process, such as forging, which enhances the properties of 3D printed parts – increasing toughness, fatigue and strength versus parts made solely by additive manufacturing – and reduces material input and production lead times.
Arconic will draw on additive and advanced manufacturing capabilities at its facilities in Cleveland, Ohio and at the Arconic Technology Center outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Last September, Airbus announced a 3D printing breakthrough involving a smaller component equipping the airframe – a 3D printed titanium bracket installed on a series production Airbus commercial aircraft, the A350 XWB. This achievement is paving the way for Airbus to design 3D printed parts in the future that are even more complex and lighter weight. Arconic is producing these titanium brackets using laser powder bed technologies at its additive manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas.
Arconic announced three agreements with Airbus last year. Under those deals, Arconic agreed to 3D print titanium and nickel airframe components, such as fuselage and engine pylon components, made using laser and electron beam powder bed processes. Those agreements established Arconic as an innovation partner to Airbus in the fast-growing metal 3D printing space.