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Alcoa to Build $60M Additive Manufacturing R&D Center

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PITTSBURGH – Alcoa Inc. today announced it will spend $60 million dollars to expand its research center in Westmoreland County, Pa., and accelerate the development of advanced 3-D printing materials and processes.

The Alcoa Technical Center, which the company describes as the world’s largest light metals R&D facility, is in Upper Burrell, Pa. The new building is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

Alcoa said the investment will enable the production of materials designed for a range of additive technologies to meet increasing demand for complex, high-performance 3-D printed parts for aerospace and other high-growth markets such as automotive, medical and building and construction.

“This investment strengthens our leadership position in meeting fast-growing demand for aerospace components made using additive technologies”, the company’s chairman and CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld, said in a statement.

Alcoa credited its recent acquisition of the former RTI International Metals for bringing 3-D printing capabilities in titanium, other specialty metals and plastics for the aerospace, oil and gas and medical markets. “This expansion positions Alcoa to industrialize its advanced 3D printing capabilities across these and other manufacturing facilities,” the company said.

Alcoa also unveiled its trademark Ampliforge process that combines advanced materials, designs and additive and traditional manufacturing processes. Using this process, Alcoa designs and 3-D prints a near complete part, then treats it using a traditional manufacturing process, such as forging.

The Ampliforge process can enhance the properties of 3-D printed parts, such as increasing toughness and strength, compared to parts made solely by additive manufacturing, Alcoa said. The process also reduces material input and simplifies production relative to traditional forging processes. The company said it is “piloting the technique” at plants in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Alcoa is a member of the Youngstown-based America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

The company’s new additive manufacturing research center will result in the creation of 100 full-time positions – including materials specialists, design experts, and process and inspection technologists –  by 2017 and approximately 45 temporary jobs during construction.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, Westmoreland County, Upper Burrell Township and Burrell School District have agreed to support the project through a mixture of financial support and tax abatements, resulting in an estimated cost savings of up to $10 million, Alcoa said.

Pictured: Rendering of $60 million additive manufacturing research center Alcoa Inc. says it will build in Westmoreland County, Pa.

SOURCE: Alcoa Inc.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.