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Airbus Produces 3D Printed Parts Of Titanium Metal In Bulk
Oct 10, 2017

                     Airbus produces 3D printed parts of titanium metal in bulk

Titanium is an expensive material, and 3D printing technology plays an important role in reducing the waste of titanium. Two major aircraft manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, have tried to directly manufacture titanium alloy parts by means of metal 3D printing technology, thus effectively controlling the manufacturing costs of titanium alloy parts.

In September 2017, Airbus announced the first installation of 3D printed titanium parts on a mass production of the A350 XWB series. According to Airbus, 3D printing parts have been in some of its series production of the Airbus aircraft including the use of A320neo and A350 XWB test aircraft, the 3D printing parts bracket is made of titanium, can be fitted to the aircraft hanger, the plane part is effectively connected with the wing and the engine. Although the 3D print parts are not large in size, they play an important role in the hanger structure.

It is reported that this 3D printing parts are manufactured by Alcoa spin off Arconic. Most importantly, by using a powder bed laser melting system, a wide variety of parts can be produced quickly. This allows the Arconic to produce bulk brackets for A350 XWB. In addition to the agreement, Arconic will also produce other 3D printed parts for titanium and nickel for A320. One of the protocols is that Arconic will provide the Airbus A320 series with 3D printed tube components made from high-temperature nickel superalloys. The advanced nickel super alloys allow these components to have excellent heat resistance, allowing hot air to diffuse from the engine to other parts of the body.

According to Arconic, the manufacturing process of the scaffold has not come easily. It not only tests the understanding of 3D printing technology, but also tests the related material processing technology. In addition, the 3D printing titanium parts are harder than cobalt and nickel parts. This material is more sensitive to the atmosphere and print parameters during 3D printing.

You can't simply think buying an 3D printer can start producing parts. In contrast, the machines and their parameters (such as laser power and laser scanning paths) need to be constantly adjusted to ensure the quality and repeatability of the parts they manufacture.

Even if the designer considers the perfect model data into the 3D printer, when the completion of 3D printing, usually found from the printer out of the product does not have the perfect size requirements. When printing these parts, any minor changes can lead to dimensional problems. 3D scientific Valley learned that Arconic started a large number of modeling and testing of prototype parts before starting production so as to meet the specifications required by the customer during the actual 3D printing process.

Arconic's parent company is the world leader in light metal technology, engineering and manufacturing, Alcoa Inc. Alcoa created a variety of materials to promote the development of the world solution provided by titanium, nickel and aluminum into value-added products, and the production of world-class bauxite, alumina and aluminium products. In order to meet the needs of various industries including aerospace manufacturing, to increase timber manufacturing demand, Alcoa will downstream of the service to the name of the company to split out Arconic.

Arconic has been involved in 3D printing for nearly 20 years, and the first 3D printer is a resin light curing technology, 3D printing equipment, installed at the research center in White, Holzer, Michigan. Through this device, 3D printing precision casting mold, so that Arconic realized the 3D printing technology and manufacturing compactness. Since then, Arconic has been equipped with metal and plastic 3D printing equipment in Texas, California, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Arconic company can provide professional services for aerospace industry from aviation technology to metal powder production and product certification. Relying on the technical strength of the Alcoa Inc, Arconic have roots in the traditional metal manufacturing technology and 3D printing field, and has the largest HIP in aerospace industry (hot isostatic pressing) one of the equipment, the equipment used for reinforcing metal structure 3D printing and non printing parts made of titanium and nickel based super alloy. In addition, after the acquisition of RTI International Metals Corporation in July 2015, Arconic strengthened the manufacturing capabilities of titanium and other specialty metals in aerospace and other fields.

With the acquisition of RTI in 2015, Arconic has gained considerable expertise in the field of materials manufacturing, and RTI has extensive experience in the production of components through 3D printing of metals and plastic materials. Through the acquisition of RTI, Arconic has a systematic 3D printing titanium metal manufacturing capabilities. Subsequently, in 2016, the Arconic Technology Center opened a special 3D printing metal powder production equipment. There, Arconic produces titanium, nickel, and aluminum powders optimized for 3D printing processes for the aerospace industry.

Remarkably, the Arconic has the world's largest thermal isostatic pressing (HIP) device. In the post processing of 3D printing parts, HIP is usually required to strengthen the metal parts of 3D printing.

Not only is the powder bed laser melting technology, Arconic also through its own material manufacturing technology for the future of metal 3D printing contribution. 3D scientific Valley understands that Arconic's Ampliforge technology is the process of combining Sciaky's large electron beam manufacturing technology (EBAM) with forging. The method uses EBAM to rapidly generate near net shapes, and then applies forging techniques to obtain the proper part strength.

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