Alcoa has announced it is investing $22 million in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology at its facility in Whitehall, Michigan. The investment will enable Alcoa to capture growing demand for advanced titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for use in jet engines.
“As aerospace growth soars, Alcoa continues to invest in the latest technologies, creating added capacity to capture fast-growing demand,” stated Olivier Jarrault, Executive Vice President and Alcoa Group President, Engineered Products and Solutions. “Combined with our expansions in LaPorte, Indiana, and Hampton, Virginia, and our growing 3D printing capabilities, this investment will give Alcoa the broadest capabilities to deliver high-quality titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world’s bestselling jet engines.”
HIP involves the simultaneous application of high pressure and temperatures to significantly improve the mechanical properties and quality of cast products, such as blades and structures for jet engines. In addition, the process increases the density of additively manufactured parts made using powdered metals, improving product consistency, strength and lifespan. All titanium, 3D-printed and some nickel parts used for jet engines must be treated using the HIP process.
Alcoa already owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP technology complexes for aerospace. This investment will expand Alcoa’s capabilities even further, enabling it to process its largest jet engine parts in-house. Through expansions in LaPorte and Hampton and by expanding its 3D printing capabilities, Alcoa is extending its product range for next generation narrow- and wide-body aircraft engines, increasing its need for HIP capabilities. With this investment, Alcoa will be able to process any cast jet engine product in its current portfolio.
Alcoa is installing this new technology at its Alcoa Power and Propulsion facility in Whitehall, Michigan, and expects it will be ready for product qualification in 2016. Alcoa’s eight other HIP production systems are also located in Whitehall, where it has a concentration of engineering and technical resources. Alcoa pioneered this technology in the aviation industry in 1973, and moved its first unit from Battelle Laboratory to Whitehall in 1975.
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