Arconic has announced a multi-year cooperative research agreement with Airbus to advance metal 3D printing for aircraft manufacturing.
Together, the companies will develop customised processes and parameters to produce and qualify large, structural 3D printed components, such as pylon spars and rib structures, up to approximately 1m in length.
The deal combines Arconic’s expertise in metal additive manufacturing and metallurgy with Airbus’s design and qualification capabilities, building on its experience with regulatory agencies for certification.
“This agreement combines the expertise of two of the world’s top aerospace additive manufacturing companies to push the boundaries of 3D printing for aircraft production,” said Eric Roegner, executive vice-president and group president, Arconic Engineered Products and Solutions and Arconic Defence. “Additive manufacturing promises a world where lighter, more complex aerospace parts are produced cheaper and faster. We’re joining forces to make that potential a reality in a bigger way than ever before.”
Under this agreement announced at the Formnext additive and advanced manufacturing conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Arconic will use electron beam high deposition rate technology to 3D print parts. This technology is ideally suited to produce larger aerospace components because it prints them up to one hundred times faster than technologies used for smaller, more intricate parts.
In addition, Arconic will demonstrate the benefits of its proprietary Ampliforge process, which combines traditional and additive manufacturing. The Ampliforge process treats a near complete 3D printed part using an advanced manufacturing process, such as forging, which enhances the properties of 3D printed parts – increasing toughness, fatigue and strength versus parts made solely by additive manufacturing – and reduces material input and production lead-times.
Arconic will draw on additive and advanced manufacturing capabilities at its facilities in Cleveland, Ohio and at the Arconic Technology Centre outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Caption: Arconic and Airbus have signed a multi-year cooperative research agreement to produce and qualify large structural 3D printed airframe components, such as the part shown here, for installation on Airbus commercial aircraft