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Alcoa Betting on 3D Printing, Spends $60 Million to Expand 3D Manufacturing Center

Sep 04, 2015 08:09 PM EDT | By Jean-Claude Arnobit
Alcoa, 3D printing

Alcoa, a leader in lightweight metals, is betting on 3D printing as it plans to expand its 3D manufacturing center in Pennsylvania, according to a press release issued by Alcoa.

Alcoa's investment aims to speed up the development of advanced 3D-printing materials and processes.

Alcoa is allotting $60 million for the expansion of its research and development center to meet the increasing demand of 3D-printed parts for aerospace, automotive, medical, and building and construction markets.

The company has already been creating 3D-printed tools, molds and prototypes for the past 20 years.

Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Alcoa, said in the press release that the investment will strengthen the company's position as the leader in "meeting the fast-growing demand for aerospace components made using additive technologies."

"Combining our expertise in metal alloys, manufacturing, design, and product qualification, we will push beyond the limits of today's additive manufacturing," he said.

Reuters adds that Alcoa's investment is part of the company's strategy to focus more on its advanced aerospace and automotive products.

The company will also be selling off its more traditional, but more costly smelting facilities.

Ray Kilmer, chief technology officer at Alcoa, told Reuters that the focus of the expansion in its R&D center will be to explore new aluminum, titanium, nickel and other metal alloys, as the alloys they currently use are expensive.

"The (alloy) powders need to be improved upon, they need to be cost effective, and they need to work better in the additive printing process," he said. "What's new now is the machines are getting better, faster and cheaper."

Kilmer adds that the company "is stepping into the process" so that they "can get the performance and the cost to where they need to be."

The company expects the construction of the new facility to be completed in the first quarter of 2016, according to the press release.

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