Titanium metal powder provider IperionX Ltd, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, has entered into an agreement with Materials Resources (MRL), Dayton, Ohio, to qualify and demonstrate the performance of IperionX’s Ti6Al4V powders for aerospace parts produced by Additive Manufacturing. This testing will take place under an MRL project with the US Navy to test titanium flight-critical metal replacement components for the Us Department of Defense (DoD).
Currently, the US is entirely import reliant for the production of primary titanium metal (titanium sponge). Given the lack of domestic production capacity, and that the US no longer maintains titanium sponge in the National Defense Stockpile, downstream titanium producers are almost entirely dependent on non-US sources of titanium. This presents the possibility that, in a national emergency, US production of titanium components would be curtailed as a result of being denied access to imports of titanium sponge.
To date, only Japan, Russia and Kazakhstan have titanium sponge plants certified to produce aerospace rotating-quality sponge that can be used for aerospace engine parts and other sensitive aerospace applications, with Russian company VSMPO-AVISMA being the largest titanium supplier for parts used on Boeing 737, 767, 787, 777 and 777X aeroplanes.
Ayman Salem, MRL’s founder and CEO, stated, “Having a domestic supplier of titanium alloys for Additive Manufacturing can address a major challenge in the supply chain. Demonstrating the repeatability and reproducibility of properties in flight-critical components will close the loop from powder to fatigue performance. The planned use of MRL’s integrated computational adaptive Additive Manufacturing (iCAAM) tools, machine learning, and in-situ NDE sensors will produce crucial information on the behaviour of the material while keeping records of the pedigree for use in the qualification process.”
IperionX supplies titanium powders from its fully operational pilot facility in Utah.