Lightweight metals expert Alcoa has opened a new 3D printing metal powder production facility at its technology center.

At the facility the company will produce proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminum powders optimized for 3D printed aerospace parts. The plant is part of a US$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.

 Alcoa says that it has also has invested in a range of technologies to develop additive processes, product design and qualification. This includes its recently unveiled Ampliforge process, a hybrid technique that combines additive and traditional manufacturing. Using the Ampliforge process, the company designs and 3D prints a near complete part, then treats it using a traditional manufacturing process, such as forging. The process can help improve the properties of 3D printed parts, increasing toughness and strength and reducing material input.

Input material

‘Alcoa is forging a leadership path in additive manufacturing with a sharp focus on the critical input material – metal powders,’ said Alcoa chairman and CEO 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.’

Alcoa has manufactured 3D printed products for the past 20 years and owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP (hot isostatic pressing) complexes in aerospace. HIP technology can help the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts made of titanium and nickel based super-alloys, the company says.

This story is reprinted from material from Alcoawith editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.