Factory Update: Additive Manufacturing and Industry 4.0 in the US

The newest factories and facilities from Alcoa, Norsk Titanium and TRUMPF Group.

3D Printing Aerospace Parts with Titanium, Nickel and Aluminum Powders

If you still think 3D printing is just for at-home enthusiasts and kids, you’re wrong.

Alcoa has recently opened their own 3D printing metal powder production facility to develop proprietary titanium, nickel and aluminum powders for aerospace parts.

This facility is an expansion of their Pennsylvania-located Alcoa Technology Center, the world’s largest research center for light materials, where Alcoa claims to have invented most of the aluminum alloys used in aerospace today.

The facility is part of a USD$60 million investment that builds on the company’s 3D printing capabilities in California, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The facility was first projected to create more than 100 full-time jobs, including materials specialists, design experts and process and inspection technologists by 2017.

Alcoa is making other moves in the additive manufacturing market with their Ampliforge process, 3D printing a part to near completion before treating it with processes like forging. The technique is being piloted in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

For more information, visit www.alcoa.com

The World’s Largest Additive Manufacturing Plant

Additive manufacturing is finding its way into all sorts of industries, from automotive to aerospace and so the following news was inevitable: work has begun on the world’s largest additive manufacturing plant.

Norsk Titanium, a global supplier of aerospace-grade, additively manufactured structural titanium components, will be developing the plant in New York with a USD$125 million investment from the State, which has also released an additional $4 million in planning funds for the Plattsburg factory.

Norsk Titanium US will provide additional investments into the plant, bringing the total program commitment up to $1 billion dollars over the initial 10-year period of operations.

The company has partnered with SUNY Polytechnic Institute, placing an order for an initial lot of 20 of Norsk Titanium’s MERKE IV Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) machines to form a baseline production level of 400 metric tons per year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium components.

Capacity is expected to ramp-up to a total of 40 MERKE IV RPD machines, capable of up to 800 metric tons per year, to meet increasing demand from the aviation industry.

Norsk has not yet released information as to how many people will be employed to run the facility.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce will also be partnering with Norsk Titanium US, to support the Plattsburgh factory’s workforce training, economic development and STEM outreach efforts, including specific educational programs for SUNY Plattsburgh, local community colleges and other schools in the region.

New York State’s investment was approved in the 2016-2017 State budget and first highlighted by Governor Andrew Cuomo on April 1, 2016 during the North County Highlights budget address in Albany – I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t an April Fools joke.

Norks’s facility is expected to be operational at the end of 2017.

For more information, visit www.norsktitanium.com.

Demo Factory to Reveal Entire Customer Process of Digitally Connected Production Plant

“Industry 4.0” is a term we’re hearing more and more as information technology is fusing with traditional manufacturing equipment for more advanced automation, data processing and facility management.

This is what the TRUMPF Group is hoping to display in force at their soon-to-be demonstration factory in Chicago.

The facility will be designed as a flexible, digitally connected production plant, showcasing the “sheet metal process chain” – from ordering a sheet of metal part to its design, production and delivery.

Visitors will get a glimpse into the entire customer process, TRUMPF states, exploring the 5,500 square meter facility.

Targeting small and medium sized job shops, the demo factory will staff around 30 employees, aimed at everyone working in sheet metal fabrication. The requirements and findings from production will be collected in development offices on-site and then made available to the TRUMPF central R&D departments.

Visitors will get to explore the facility’s control center, the factory’s “Skywalk,” for a birds-eye view of the factory, spanning 55 meters.

For more information on the factory’s development, stay tuned.

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