Arconic announces Airbus 3D metal printing project at formnext 2017

Arconic, a global, technology, engineering and advanced manufacturing enterprise, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus have announced a multi-year cooperative research agreement at formnext 2017.

The research agreement will bring together Arconic’s metal additive manufacturing and metallurgy capabilities and Airbus’ aircraft part design and certification to produce large-scale 3D Printed Airbus airframe components.

Arconic’s research and development

Over the course of the research and development period, both companies will develop customized processes to produce large, structural 3D printed components before certifying the parts for flight. These include pylon spars and rib structures.

Promising that the deal would “push the boundaries of 3D printing for aircraft production”, Eric Roegner, Executive VP at Arconic Engineered Products and Solutions and Arconic Defense explained that “additive manufacturing promises a world where lighter, more complex aerospace parts are produced cheaper and faster.”

An Arconic engineer with a 3D printed bracket. Photo via Arconic.

EBM goes airborne

Arconic is set to use electron beam high deposition rate technology to 3D print parts, which, according to the company, 3D prints large metal components up to 100 times faster than processes designed for more intricate parts.

As part of its post production services for metal parts, Arconic will also make use of its proprietary “Ampliforge” process. It uses advanced manufacturing techniques such as forging or milling to enhance the toughness, fatigue and strength of near completed parts.

The Ampliforge process also purports to reduce material input and production lead times when applied to a near-complete 3D printed object.

The research and development will taker place at Arconic’s facilities in Cleveland, Ohio and Arconic Technology Center outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

3D printing of Airbus parts using EBM. Photo via Arconic.
3D printing of Airbus parts using EBM. Photo via Arconic.

The latest in a series of agreements

Arconic, which previously 3D printed metal parts for the Orion spacecraft, most recently collaborated with Airbus to 3D print titanium brackets for the airframe of the A350 XWB, using laser powder bed fusion.

Prior to this, Arconic announced three additional agreements with Airbus to produce titanium and nickel 3D printed parts for its aircraft, including the A320 and A350 XWB.

Arconic is exhibiting at formnext 2017, Hall 3.0, booth F41.

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Featured image shows the Airbus A350 WXB, for which Arconic is 3D printing parts. Image via Arconic.