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Wire-shaped smelting of titanium may revolutionise cost, quality and lead times

Research Council Of Norway : 10 October, 2012  (Special Report)
With funding from the User-driven Research based Innovation (BIA) programme at the Research Council of Norway, Norsk Titanium Components (NTiC) has developed an entirely new method of producing titanium components, making it cheaper and easier to capitalise on this material.
Wire-shaped smelting of titanium may revolutionise cost, quality and lead times

Titanium is a material that is in high demand in the oil and gas, aerospace and defence industries. Norway has large reserves of this raw material, but producing end-products made of titanium is currently both expensive and difficult.

The traditional method of producing components of titanium involves using forged plates, blocks or rods depending on the product specifications. These are then shaped into the desired components through machining.

This production method has two significant drawbacks: firstly, machining can lead to as much as 70% of the material being lost as waste. This loss is very costly, as titanium is more difficult to recycle than other materials and the price of titanium plates is NOK 1000/kg. Secondly, the production process is very lengthy. NTiC expects its new production technology to reduce delivery times by many months.

In addition, the company forecasts that material waste can be limited to 10-20% and that prices will be 30-50% lower. NTiC will also be able to produce titanium components of a much higher quality than what the industry can offer today.

The premium results are the outcome of a production technology developed entirely by NTiC. The basic method involves feeding wire-shaped pieces of titanium into a machine for smelting. But first specifications are entered into a computer program in the machine which determines the resulting shape of the components. The process produces components that can range from 5cm to 2m in length. The process can be compared with making a pot by layering coils of clay on top of one another until the pot is finished. This also enables the creation of products in near-final-form.


The production method gives rise to hopes that new applications can be discovered for titanium. Titanium may also become a key raw material in one of the hottest innovations in the energy sector: wind turbines at sea. The properties of titanium are optimal for this purpose: it is as strong as steel, but 45% lighter and highly resistant to corrosion

NTiC is working towards becoming a qualified supplier of components vital to the aerospace industry. Over 300 000 new planes will be built worldwide by 2030.

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