Airbus has agreed a joint research project with engineering specialist Arconic to advance metals-based additive manufacturing technology for the production of "large" structural components.
US-headquartered Arconic says the multi-year co-operation's objective is to "develop customised processes and parameters to produce and qualify large, structural 3D-printed components, such as pylon spars and rib structures, up to approximately 1m (3ft) in length".
Eric Roegner, president of Arconic's engineered products & solutions and defence divisions, states: "Additive manufacturing promises a world where lighter, more complex aerospace parts are produced cheaper and faster. We're joining forces [with Airbus] to make that potential a reality in a bigger way than ever before."
The partners will use electron-beam high-deposition-rate technology for the project because, Arconic says, that process produces large components "up to 100 times faster than [3D-printing] technologies used for smaller, more intricate components".
Arconic will additionally utilise a proprietary process, dubbed "Ampliforge", which "combines traditional and additive manufacturing".
The technique "treats a near complete 3D-printed part using an advanced manufacturing process, such as forging, which enhances the properties of 3D-printed parts – increasing toughness, fatigue and strength versus parts made solely by additive manufacturing – and reduces material input and production lead-times," says Arconic.
Airbus previously partnered the New York-based company for the production of small, 3D-printed nickel and titanium components.