Alcoa has opened its state-of-the-art, 3D printing metal powder production facility. Located at the Alcoa Technology Center, the Company will produce proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminum powders optimized for 3D printed aerospace parts. Alcoa also has invested in a range of technologies to further develop additive processes, product design and qualification.
Metal powders used for 3D printing durable, high-quality aerospace parts are available in limited quantities. Through this expansion, Alcoa will develop materials with the specific properties needed to 3D print high-performance components. Alcoa has deep expertise in metal alloy development having invented most of the aluminum alloys used in aerospace today.
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.