Sometimes additive manufacturing is simply outclassed by traditional techniques like molding, casting or machining. In other cases, the technology’s strengths make it a no-brainer. For example, the long lead times, low batch sizes and high cost of aerospace parts make additive a perfect fit in this industry. GE’s famous fuel nozzle is just one example.
Another area in which additive manufacturing shines is working with titanium. Notoriously difficult and expensive to cut, 3D printing titanium parts is proving to be a better solution than conventional machining. Naturally, these two advantages combine to create metal additive’s wheelhouse: titanium aerospace parts.
Norsk Titanium, an FAA-approved supplier of aerospace-grade, additive manufactured, structural titanium components, held a dedication ceremony yesterday of its Plattsburgh Development and Qualification Center (PDQC) in Plattsburgh, New York. The facility houses nine rapid plasma deposition (RPD) titanium printers that will produce aerospace components for Boeing and other aerospace producers.
"Norsk could have chosen anywhere in the nation to set up their first-in-the-world manufacturing operations, but they chose Plattsburgh thanks to our economic development strategy and our pro-business climate," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "This partnership will help grow the booming transportation and aeronautics industry, create hundreds of good jobs and support economic growth in the North Country."
Earlier this year, Norsk announced its first production order from Boeing for the manufacture of 3D-printed structural titanium components for the 787 Dreamliner.
Norsk’s proprietary rapid plasma deposition (RPD) process uses titanium wire with plasma torches to print titanium structural components on an industrial scale. RPD can be used to produce large structural parts weighing over 100 lbs. The company states that RPD is 50-100 times faster than powder-based systems, and uses 25-50 percent less titanium than incumbent forging processes.
According to Norsk Titanium, the choice to locate the company’s first U.S. facility in the Plattsburgh region was due to its excellent transportation infrastructure, skilled and capable labor force and proximity to the large aerospace supply-chain community.