Airbus ordered a state-of-the-art electron-beam additive-manufacturing (EBAM) system from Sciaky Inc., a subsidiary of Phillips Service Industries. The aircraft manufacturer will use the industrial-scale metal 3D-printing system to produce large structural parts made of titanium. In related news, Airbus entered into two agreements with Arconic for the supply of 3D-printed metal parts for its commercial aircraft.

Sciaky's EBAM process combines computer-aided design (CAD), additive-manufacturing processing principles and an electron-beam heat source. Starting with a 3D model from a CAD program, Sciaky's fully articulated, moving electron-beam gun deposits metal via wire feedstock, layer by layer, until the part reaches near-net shape. From there, the near-net shape part requires heat treatment and post-production machining.

Arconic will supply 3D-printed ducting components made of high-temperature nickel superalloys for the A320 family of aircraft. Advanced nickel superalloys offer superior heat resistance for these components, which flow hot air from the engine to other parts of the airframe. Under a second deal, Arconic will supply 3D-printed titanium airframe brackets, also for the A320 platform. Arconic expects to deliver the first parts under both agreements in the second quarter of 2017.