Norsk Titanium AS and Alcoa have an agreement to conduct joint industrial research, to identify opportunities in additive manufacturing that will result in products for aerospace, defense, energy, automotive and maritime industries. The terms of their “Joint Technology and Industrial Cooperation program” were not detailed, nor was the research program, but NTi’s president and CEO Warren M. Boley Jr. stated the new partners expect “to build on our innovative technology capabilities by leveraging Alcoa’s in-depth understanding of lightweight metal components, increase our offerings for aerospace and other end markets, and support our goal of delivering near-net-shape titanium components finished with minimal machining.”
Alcoa is a minority investor in Oslo-based Norsk Titanium by way of its recent, $1.5-billion purchase of RTI International Metals. In July, RTI invested an undisclosed amount in NTi to cooperate on projects surrounding NTi’s 3D printing technology, known as Direct Metal Deposition (DMD.)
DMD is one of various additive manufacturing technologies involving powdered alloys and a laser power source to produce fully dense metal parts according to patterns indicated by CAD data, which informs the system where to place the metal powders and applies the laser to melt the material, in a closed-loop sequence that maintains the dimensional accuracy of the design and the material integrity of the metal. The system is capable of depositing the material in six axes of operation, and delivering and depositing multiple materials for parts with highly complex geometries.
NTi produces aerospace-grade titanium structures, reportedly shipping nearly 2.5 metric tons of Ti alloy aerospace parts for certification testing during the second quarter of this year.
The company has a production center at Hønefoss, Norway, though recently reports have indicated the state of New York will establish a $125-million, 200,000-sq.ft. production site in Plattsburgh, at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, that NTi will operate in a public-private partnership. By late next year, that operation would have several dozen DMD systems in operation, producing aerospace and defense-relate parts.
Alcoa’s objective in the development is related to its aerospace focus as well as its plan to invest in 3D printing research and process development. One of those it highlighted, called Ampliforge, coordinates an additive manufacturing sequence with closed-die forging to produce near-net-shape parts.
NTi stated that combining its technology with Alcoa’s vertically integrated titanium supply chain would have “significant applications in the titanium closed-die forging market.”
Eric Roegner, president of Alcoa Titanium and Engineered Products, said the cooperation strategy would “bring together Alcoa’s unmatched metallurgical know-how and deep aerospace industry relationships with Norsk Titanium’s 3D-printing technologies, to ultimately accelerate the introduction of advanced manufactured aerospace solutions.”