Kobe Steel Ltd. announced recently it has started supplying large titanium-alloy forgings to IHI Corporation, as shafts for an unnamed GE Aviation commercial aircraft engine program. It noted the forgings, rotating parts for shafts, are among the largest components used in aircraft jet engines.
IHI is a Tokyo-based heavy-equipment manufacturer involved in aerospace, industrial and construction machinery, energy systems, and various other sectors. Among many other jet-engine programs, IHI last year agreed to participate with GE Aviation in its GE9X engine program, a new engine in development to power the new Boeing 777X aircraft. The new engines will debut in 2019.
Rotating parts like shafts and disks are among the largest titanium-alloy forgings used in jet engine construction, and must exhibit exceptionally high quality, according to Kobe Steel. Kobe Steel started developing the forged material three years ago and, having gained quality certification, it recently began mass production for aircraft engine shafts to supply IHI.
While Kobe Steel developed the forged shafts, its subsidiary Japan Aeroforge Ltd. (JForge) produces the parts. Kobe Steel handles other aspects of manufacturing, as well quality assurance.
JForge is a joint venture of Kobe Steel, Hitachi Metals, and other companies (including IHI), that started up in 2013, centered on a 50,000-metric ton hydraulic press. Kobe Steel predicted that demand for JForge’s large titanium forgings for aircraft jet engines would increase following the supply order from IHI.