787 Dreamliner will be first commercial jet to feature certified additive-manufactured titanium structures
Norsk Titanium AS now has a purchase order from Boeing Commercial Airplanes to supply 3D-printed, structural titanium components, produced by Norsk’s proprietary Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD™) process. The contract follows an order announced last July, in which NTi produced titanium Ti-6Al-4V preforms for Boeing, for testing and evaluation.
At that time, NTi indicated the goal was to demonstrate part-to-part repeatability and to optimize the operations processes necessary to enter into long-term production of structural components for the OEM’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
In the RPD process, titanium wire is fed through plasma torches cooled by an argon shield, melting the material as it is deposited into a near-net shape — a shape determined by CAD-based design. NTi claims that the process makes it possible to produce parts that will replace forgings, with shorter development and production time.
Boeing designed the components, which were submitted to a testing program and achieved FAA certification in February 2017. Norsk Titanium is the first supplier for Boeing’s high-deposition rate material specification.
NTi produces aerospace-grade titanium structures at Hønefoss, Norway. Its U.S. subsidiary is building an industrial-scale metal additive-manufacturing plant at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Plattsburgh, NY, scheduled to start in late this year.
According to president and CEO Warren M. Boley, Jr., “The Norsk Titanium team will continue to expand the portfolio of components supplied to Boeing, meeting stringent certification requirements. It is an honor to earn FAA approval for these structural parts.”