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Now Arriving: 3D Printed Metal Aircraft Parts

Arconic is taking metal 3D printing out of the lab and into the skies

Arconic is taking metal 3D printing out of the lab and into the skies. Our 3D printed parts have already orbited Earth on the Orion spacecraft—and are now taking flight in sky nearer you on Airbus commercial aircraft

Additive manufacturing is shaping a world where lighter, more complex aerospace parts are produced cheaper and faster. The latest example: Arconic and Airbus recently signed a cooperative research agreement to produce and qualify large-scale 3D printed airframe components. We're combining Arconic’s expertise in metal additive manufacturing with Airbus’s know-how in final aircraft part design and qualification to leverage the power of 3D printing for the broadest range of aircraft components yet.

Why is Arconic in the lead? Because 3D printing is complex. And you can’t just download a design and press print when it comes to metal parts for aircraft, cruising at 575 mph at 40,000 feet in the air. Arconic brings together comprehensive capabilities under one banner to harness the full potential of additive manufacturing.

We start by optimizing product design. And because high performance designs require high performance materials, we’re building on more than a century of experience in metal alloy development and metal powder production to engineer proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminum powders that are the “smart ink” in our 3D printing processes. Metal powders used for 3D printing durable, high-quality aerospace parts are available in limited quantities. At our new state-of-the-art, 3D printing metal powder production facility located at the Arconic Technology Center, we will develop materials with the specific properties needed to 3D print high-performance components.

We have expertise in a range of additive-manufacturing technologies, including wire fed and hybrid technologies, to produce parts tailored to our customers’ needs.

But it’s not enough to print the part. One of the main challenges of getting metal 3D printed parts flying is qualifying them to do so. Arconic has the job in hand–joining forces with Airbus to build on their experience with regulatory agencies for certification.

Today a few aircraft parts, tomorrow large-format airframe components and then–quite possibly the whole aircraft. Ambitions for 3D printing are high. And we’ll keep pushing them higher.

Infographic: Arconic and 3D Printing: Our Revolution is in the Making

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