Arconic, Airbus Partner on Metal 3D Printing for Aircraft
The deal combines Arconic’s metal AM and metallurgy technology with Airbus’ design, qualification and certification experience.
Arconic has entered a multi-year cooperative research agreement with Airbus to advance metal 3D printing for aircraft manufacturing. Together, the companies will work to develop processes and parameters to produce and qualify large, structural, 3D-printed components, such as pylon spars and rib structures as large as approximately 1 meter (3 feet) in length.
The deal combines Arconic’s expertise in metal additive manufacturing and metallurgy with Airbus’ design and qualification capabilities, as well as its experience with regulatory agencies for certification.
To print parts, Arconic will use electron beam high-deposition-rate technology, which is suited for larger aerospace components because it is said to print up to 100 times faster than processes used for smaller, more intricate parts. The company also plans to apply its Ampliforge process, which treats near-complete 3D-printed parts using an advanced manufacturing process, such as forging, to enhance part properties. It is said to increase toughness, fatigue and strength over parts made solely by additive manufacturing, while reducing material input and production lead times.
A dedicated AM facility is helping the company discover the technology’s potential for design as well as production.
An engineering modification that would have been impractical or cost-prohibitive in the past is realized on a machine tool performing metal 3D printing and machining in the same cycle.
With PCD tooling, yes it can. The diamond cutting edges demand a large number of flutes to realize their full effectiveness. Traditional methods for making cutter bodies limit the number of flutes, but 3D printing is delivering tools with higher flute density and other enhancements as well.