Alcoa opens 3D printing metal powder plant
The new facility will produce titanium, nickel and aluminum powders optimized for 3D printing aerospace parts.0
Alcoa has been manufacturing 3D printed products for the past 20 years but has now expanded its capabilities with the opening of its new state-of-the-art 3D printing metal powder production facility.
The new facility is located at the Alcoa Technology Center in Pittsburgh, PA and will produce proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminum powders optimized for 3D printed aerospace parts.
In a push to expand additive manufacturing capabilities, the company has invested in a wide range of technologies to develop new processes, product design and qualification.
For the most part, metal powders for aerospace parts have been hard to come by as there is a limited quantity. With this new expansion, Alcoa plans to develop material with these specific needs in mind. This will allow for customers to 3D print high-performance components.
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.
The company 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 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. “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.”