Alcoa to expand R&D centre in Pennsylvania.
Lightweight metals leader Alcoa is expanding its R&D centre in Pennsylvania to accelerate the development of advanced 3D printing materials and processes. The $60 million expansion is under construction at the Alcoa Technical Center, the world’s largest light metals research centre near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Alcoa will produce materials designed specifically for a range of additive technologies to meet increasing demand for complex, high-performance 3D printed parts for aerospace, automotive, medical and construction industries.
“Alcoa is investing in the next generation of 3D printing for aerospace and beyond,” explained Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld. “Combining our expertise in metal alloys, manufacturing, design and product qualification, we will push beyond the limits of today’s additive manufacturing. This investment strengthens our leadership position in meeting fast-growing demand for aerospace components made using additive technologies.”
The company has also unveiled its Ampliforge process, a technique combining advanced materials, designs and additive and traditional manufacturing processes. 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 can enhance the properties of 3D printed parts, reduce material input and simplify production relative to traditional forging processes.
As part of Alcoa’s comprehensive approach to advancing additive manufacturing, the company’s material scientists will utilise Alcoa’s 100 year history in metal powder development to produce proprietary aluminium, titanium and nickel powders designed specifically for 3D printing. These powders will be tailored for various additive manufacturing processes to produce higher strength 3D-printed parts, and meet other quality and performance requirements.
Alcoa will also further its development of advanced 3D printing design and manufacturing techniques to improve production speeds, reduce costs, and achieve geometries not possible through traditional methods. With the industry’s longest-running history of certifying aerospace components and qualifying processes, Alcoa will use its testing and process control expertise to overcome challenges with certifying new 3D-printed parts, starting with aerospace applications.
This expansion of the Alcoa Technical Centre, penned for completion in early 2016, builds on Alcoa’s additive manufacturing capabilities in California, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. The Company has been creating 3D-printed tools, moulds and prototypes for the past 20 years and owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP (Hot Isostatic Pressing) complexes in aerospace, a technology that strengthens the metallic structures of traditional and additive manufactured parts made of titanium and nickel based super-alloys. Through the recent RTI acquisition, Alcoa gained 3D printing capabilities in titanium, other specialty metals and plastics for the aerospace, oil and gas and medical markets. This expansion positions Alcoa to industrialize its advanced 3D printing capabilities across these and other manufacturing facilities