Alcoa increases its 3D printing capabilities for aerospace technology

Alcoa invests in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology that strengthens the metallic structure of titanium, nickel and 3D-printed jet engine parts.

Alcoa is investing $22 million in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) technology at its facility in Whitehall, Michigan. The investment enables Alcoa to capture growing demand for advanced titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world’s bestselling jet engines. Steep ramp-up rates for narrow- and wide-body aircraft engines—the top-selling jet engines in the world—are increasing Alcoa’s need for such capabilities.

HIP involves the simultaneous application of high pressure and temperatures to significantly improve the mechanical properties and quality of cast products, such as blades and structures for jet engines. In addition, the process increases the density of 3D-printed parts made using powdered metals, improving product consistency, strength and lifespan. All titanium, 3D-printed and some nickel parts used for jet engines must be treated using the HIP process.

Alcoa already owns and operates one of the world’s largest HIP technology complexes for aerospace. This investment will expand Alcoa’s capabilities even further, enabling it to process its largest jet engine parts in-house. Through expansions in LaPorte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia, and by expanding its 3D printing capabilities, Alcoa is extending its product range for next generation narrow- and wide-body aircraft engines, increasing its need for HIP capabilities. With this investment, Alcoa will be able to process any cast jet engine product in its current portfolio.

“Combined with our expansions in LaPorte, Indiana and Hampton, Virginia and our growing 3D printing capabilities, this investment will give Alcoa the broadest capabilities to deliver high-quality titanium, nickel and 3D-printed parts for the world’s bestselling jet engines,” said Olivier Jarrault, Executive Vice President and Alcoa Group President, Engineered Products and Solutions.

Demonstrating its support for the expansion, the City of Whitehall has approved a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption valued at over $1,000,000.