With the Farnborough Airshow in full swing, we’ve seen a lot of aerospace-centric AM news this week. Norsk Titanium, the developer of Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD), an FAA-certified, OEM-qualified AM process for producing titanium parts, has not been left behind in the excitement as it has made announcements in collaboration with both Spirit AeroSystems and QuesTek Innovations.
Qualifying Boeing 787 parts
Norsk Titanium US Inc. (NTi) has announced that it will be initiating qualification for additively manufactured titanium structural components for the Boeing 787 aircraft through its ongoing partnership with Spirit AeroSystems. The companies came to an agreement about the qualification process this week.
The qualification process will validate Norsk Titanium’s production and industrialization processes while integrating Spirit’s workscope of machining additively manufactured near-net shape components. The qualification will seek to verify the aircraft parts’ material properties and overall conformity to requirements.
“Spirit has had a comprehensive and long relationship with Norsk Titanium, and this part will be our first additive structural titanium component incorporated into a commercial airplane program,” said Spirit AeroSystems Senior Vice President of Fabrication and Supply Chain Management, Ron Rabe.
Spirit AeroSystems and Norsk Titanium partnered in June 2017 to manufacture 3D printed structural titanium components for the commercial aerospace sector, though they have been collaborating since as early as 2008 to develop the AM technology for aerospace. Since then, NTi has been recognized as the first FAA-approved, OEM qualified supplier of AM structural titanium components and has supplied 3D printed titanium components for the Boeing 787 for over a year.
“I am very proud of the Norsk Titanium team and this accomplishment,” said Mike Canario, CEO of Norsk Titanium. “It represents years of technology development. I also would also like to thank Spirit for this vote of confidence in the Norsk RPD process and capability.”
Evaluating QuesTek alloys with RPD
In other Norsk Titanium news, the titanium AM company has partnered with QuesTek Innovations LLC to test novel titanium alloys for use in additive manufacturing. The collaboration, announced at the Farnborough Airshow in England, will see the companies evaluate one of QuesTek’s titanium alloys using Norsk’s RPD process. At this stage, Norsk says it has already conducted a preliminary evaluation of the titanium alloy after printing initial test parts.
Through the collaborative evaluation, Norsk Titanium will investigate and characterize the alloy’s microstructure, material properties and performance. The patented titanium alloy being tested has shown promising results in the past, having demonstrated 15% better strength and better ductility than traditional Ti-6Al-4V using wire-based Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (BEAM) and more traditional casting processes.
“We are excited to be working closely with Norsk Titanium’s business and technical team to evaluate our alloy in their proven process,” commented Jeff Grabowski, QuesTek manager of Business Development. “Based on our interactions with the major aerospace component suppliers and aircraft OEMs in the U.S., Europe and Japan, we know there is a significant desire for reliable, higher performance Additive Manufactured titanium components that will enable light weighting and an increase in component life.”
“Norsk is continually evaluating new applications of our process beyond the structural airframe components in production today,” added Norsk Vice President of Product Development Nicholas Mayer. “QuesTek’s novel titanium alloy will allow RPD to grow into new applications and will allow designers to take further advantage of the benefits of additive processes.”