Arconic, New York, USA, has announced a multi-year cooperative research agreement with Airbus to further advance metal Additive Manufacturing for aircraft components. The companies state that they will develop customised processes and parameters to produce and qualify large structural AM components, such as pylon spars and rib structures, up to approximately 1 m in length.
Arconic will use electron beam high deposition rate technology to additively manufacture parts; a technology which it states is ideally suited to produce larger aerospace components due to its greater speed, which enables it to produce parts up to one hundred times faster than technologies used for smaller, more intricate parts.
In addition, Arconic’s research is expected to benefit from the use of its proprietary Ampliforge™ process, which combines traditional technologies with Additive Manufacturing. The Ampliforge process treats a near-complete AM part using a manufacturing process, such as forging, which enhances the properties of AM parts – increasing toughness, fatigue and strength compared to parts made solely by Additive Manufacturing – and reduces material input and production lead times.
“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,” stated Eric Roegner, Executive Vice President and Group President, Arconic Engineered Products and Solutions and Arconic Defense. “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.”
Arconic will develop its processes and manufacture test parts at its facilities in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and at the Arconic Technology Center outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Arconic and Airbus
Arconic has a long-standing relationship with Airbus in which its capabilities in materials science and AM, qualification and supply chain management, have seen the companies announce three agreements in the last year.
Under those agreements, Arconic agreed to additively manufacture titanium and nickel airframe components, such as fuselage and engine pylon components, made using laser and electron beam powder bed processes, for Airbus.
Perhaps most notably, the company’s Austin, Texas, USA facility currently produces Airbus’s AM titanium brackets, installed on its series A350 XWB aircraft. These brackets entered commercial use in September 2017, and are reported to be the first metal AM parts installed on a series production commercial aircraft.