Why did Alcoa just invest $60 million in 3D printing?
Aluminum mega company Alcoa sees big plans in shaping metal with 3D printers. The company announced earlier this week plans to invest $60 million to expand its research and development (R&D) center for advanced 3D printing techniques and materials.
Located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the R&D center will produce materials specifically for additive technologies to satisfy rising demand for complex, high-performance 3D-printed parts for aerospace and other high-growth markets, including automotive, medical and construction.
“Alcoa is investing in the next generation of 3D printing for aerospace and beyond,” Alcoa chairperson and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld stated.
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“Combining our expertise in metal alloys, manufacturing, design and product qualification, we will push beyond the limits of today’s additive manufacturing. This investment strengthens our leadership position in meeting fast-growing demand for aerospace components made using additive technologies.”
Alcoa said it’s working to developing a specialized manufacturing technique that combines 3D printing technology with traditional processes.
According to Ray Kilmer, Alcoa’s chief technology officer, the company is attempting to develop cheaper metal materials that can be used to craft 3D printed objects rather than current materials used, which are extremely expensive.
“What’s new now is the machines are getting better, faster and cheaper,” said Kilmer. “Alcoa is stepping into the process so we can get the performance and the cost to where they need to be.”
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Construction of the new expansion is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016. Alcoa said the project is expected to create more than 100 full-time positions, including materials specialists, design experts and process and inspection technologist by 2017.
According to the company, Aloca has been utilizing 3D printing technology to build tools and prototypes for the past 20 years.
Axora launches global challenge for digital technology
Axora is launching the world’s first international competition to discover new cost-saving digital technology for industrial companies, which can produce rapid benefits within a year.
The Metals & Mining and Oil & Gas sectors have recently experienced budget cuts of 20% on average, driven by a variety of factors including the global pandemic, slump in demand and price wars. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge aims to transform these industries by discovering innovative, digital solutions that reduce cost fast and pay for themselves, whilst achieving the same or improved productivity, health and safety and sustainability standards.
“While digital solutions can help to get work done quicker and more cost-effectively, they typically require a three-year ROI, and if there’s no flexibility in the budget, a full budget planning cycle is needed to get things moving”, said Dr. Nick Mayhew, Chief Commercial Officer, Axora.
“Yet, extra financial cost is often incurred in delaying digital projects, so customers have asked us to highlight solutions that can have an ‘in year payback’ whereby the cost spent on the solution and deployment will be more than recovered within the budget year - this accelerates the timeline and drives positive business impact, quickly.”
The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge
Axora is keen to learn of any digital cost-saving innovation which: meets the 12-month payback timeframe; can be deployed in any part of the value chain including upstream, downstream or midstream oil and gas, metals processing or mining; and is ready for market. The Axora Cost-Saving Technology Challenge is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups, academics and sector leaders across the world. The competition will be judged by a panel of leading industry experts.
“We’re passionate about supporting our industries and customers through all forms of digital transformation and the cost-saving solutions we are searching for could also provide a lifeline to many mining and metals and oil and gas companies in the current economic climate,” added Dr. Mayhew.
Improving productivity, safety and sustainability
Up to ten finalists will be chosen to pitch their solutions at a digital pitch day later this year, after which Axora will validate the ROI models and vet the solutions. The winner will receive the ‘Axora Market Accelerator’ sales and marketing package worth £10,000. This includes a two-hour workshop, promotion through Axora’s thought leadership content and inclusion into its digital demand engines, providing the opportunity for the winning solution to benefit thousands of industrial companies. Entries are open until May 31. Full details of the competition including terms and conditions can be found here.
To learn more about the Axora B2B digital solutions marketplace read our feature in the latest issue of Mining Global magazine.