New York based engineering materials and solutions company Arconic (NYSE:ARNC) was formed from the division of metal specialist Alcoa in November 2016. While some are content to gaze into the crystal ball and forecast the future of 3D printing for the next 12 months, Arconic have announced their vision of what the future might look like in 45 years. This includes construction of a smog-eating skyscraper using 3D printing.

Smart metamaterials that respond to environmental change

Speaking to Business Insider, Arconic chief materials scientist Sherri McCleary explains, “We’re looking at optimizing the materials that can be 3D printed to give more and more options to designers and architects.”

Rendered smart windows of the Arconic skyscraper. Image via: Arconic

Rendered smart windows of the skyscraper via Arconic.

EcoClean is the material that gives Arconic’s concept tower its smog-eating capabilities. It is a titanium dioxide based coating for aluminium, and can absorb toxins from the air.

EcoClean’s smart capabilities coupled with McCleary’s statement hint towards the development of metamaterials. As a multi-billion-dollar company sharing in over a century of metals experience from Alcoa, Arconic is certainly well placed as a developer of these synthetic composites that behave ‘out of nature’.

Making advanced additive manufacturing metal powders

Arconic target the 3D printed metal market with their specialist powder materials made from titanium and nickel super-alloys. These super-alloys are desirable in aerospace and defense industries for their ability to withstand high pressures, and are in production at the $60 million Arconic facility in Pittsburgh, PA.

3D printed prototypes for aeroengine components Photo via: Arconic

Are these 3D printed prototypes for aerospace components of the future?

Airplane manufacturer Airbus is one of Arconic’s collaborators. 3D printed titanium is provided by Arconic to build fuselage and engine parts for Airbus’ commercial planes.

Arconic also have a $470 million contract with Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer. The first E-Jet E2 airlines to incorporate Arconic additive manufacturing are expected from the partnership in 2018.

Inspired by the Jetsons 

The smog-eating skyscraper is part of company’s The Jetsons marketing campaign, Arconic’s ‘futurist engineering’ project that seeks to predict and develop the most useful technologies of the future.

The world of The Jetsons, reimagined by the company on YouTube

Though ambitious, the three-mile-high skyscraper is not as radical as it may first appear. Dubai have set a near term target to 3D print 25% percent of the city’s buildings by 2030. Dubai has already made progress on their goal with a 3D printed office for the Dubai Future Foundation, and a standardized buildability index.

Featured image shows a 3D render of the smog-eating skyscraper. All images in this article, including the featured image are provided by Arconic.

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