Alcoa opens new metals powder facility

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Alcoa has opened a $US 60 million metal powder production facility in Upper Burrell, Pittsburgh, at the company’s Technology Centre.

The metals specialist opened the powder facility at Alcoa Technology Centre, the world’s biggest light metals research centre. It will be used to optimise powders for aerospace 3D printing applications.

“We are combining our expertise in metallurgy, manufacturing, design and product qualification to push beyond the possibilities of today’s 3D printing technologies for aerospace and other growth markets,” said chairman Klaus Kleinfeld in a statement.

Alcoa is preparing to split off its commodity mining, refining and smelting business, to be named Alcoa Corp. The Technical Centre will be used by the new high-value Arconic parts business.

As well as manufacture of specialised titanium, nickel and aluminium powders for aerospace, Arconic will use the site to develop “Ampliforge”, a proprietary technology that combines additive manufacturing and traditional manufacturing, with forging increasing parts’ material strength and decreasing material input.

Alcoa announced in April that it had signed an agreement with Airbus to supply parts such as titanium 3D printed fuselages.

“Alcoa has manufactured 3D printed products for the past 20 years and owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP (Hot Isostatic Pressing) complexes in aerospace,” it said.