Norsk and QuesTek to collaborate on titanium alloys for additive

Norsk Titanium and QuesTek Innovations are to collaborate on the testing of novel titanium alloys for use in additive manufacturing processes.

Production at Norsk

As part of this collaboration, the companies are evaluating a QuesTek-designed titanium alloy using Norsk’s Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) process. Preliminary evaluation of the Illinois-based company’s alloy is complete and Norsk has manufactured initial test specimens.

The test program will characterise the alloy microstructure, provide initial material properties, and will confirm QuesTek’s Ti alloy performance using Norsk’s production process.

According to Oslo-based Norsk, RPD precisely melts titanium wire in an inert argon gas environment, which is then built up in layers to a near-net-shape part. The company says this then results in significantly less machining, and a 50 to 75 per cent improvement in ‘buy-to-fly ratio’ compared to conventional manufacturing methods. Norsk is a tier 1 supplier to Boeing and its RDM process is the first to be approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) for 3D-printed structural titanium.

QuesTek’s patented titanium alloy is said to have demonstrated approximately 15 per cent greater strength and improved ductility over traditional Ti-6Al-4V in wire-based Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing and 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. Based on our interactions with the major aerospace component suppliers and aircraft OEMs in the US, Europe and Japan, we know there is a significant desire for reliable, higher performance Additive Manufactured titanium components that will enable lightweighting and an increase in component life,” said QuesTek’s manager of business development Jeff Grabowski.

When implemented, the new alloy is expected to provide material properties in excess of standard Ti-6Al-4V.

“Norsk is continually evaluating new applications of our process beyond the structural airframe components in production today.  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,” said Nicholas Mayer, Norsk vice president of product development.

Today’s announcement was made at Farnborough International Air Show 2018.