Partnership to standardise Titomic’s additive manufacturing process for defence, aerospace

Metal additive manufacturing company, Titomic Limited, has signed a $2.6 million project with the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) to standardise the company’s patented Titomic Kinetic Fusion process – which produces load-bearing 3D forms from fusing Titanium powder sprayed at supersonic speeds.

The project, which will be carried out in partnership between Titomic, IMCRC, CSIRO and RMIT University, will focus on enhancing Titomic Kinetic Fusion (TKF) as a transformational technology for aerospace and defence industry standards.

IMCRC, CSIRO and RMIT University with Titomic will contribute $2.6 million in funding and in-kind investment, with Titomic and IMCRC each contributing $0.47 million in cash over the two-year project period.

Read: Breaking the boundaries of additive manufacturing

Currently, the AM metal 3D printing industries which use laser and electron beam melting processes have significant limitations due to the melting of the metal causing layering inclusions, evaporation of some alloys, and thermal distortion within the parts meaning they are unable to be certified for the production of aerospace structures components.

This Titomic-led IMCRC program will create new industry certification standards for Titomic’s Kinetic Fusion process allowing it to be used for producing aerospace structures in continuation of the already approved processes for repairs on aircraft such as the B-1 bomber, F/A-18 Fighter and Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters.

“The aerospace and defence industries are seeking new additive manufacturing capabilities for industrial-scale titanium alloy structures to improve upon time consuming, wasteful traditional subtractive manufacturing processes,” Titomic managing director and project industry leader, Jeff Lang said.

“Titomic, as the global leader of industrial scale metal additive manufacturing, will utilise this IMCRC Project to develop Australian export capability for the supply of TKF systems and consumables to meet the demand of the aerospace and defence industries,” he said.

Successfully creating new aerospace standards for the TKF process will bolster Titomic’s market position as a global leader in industrial scale metal additive manufacturing, resulting in significant commercial opportunities for TKF as the next-generation digital manufacturing process of titanium and titanium alloy complex shaped structures.

The evidence and enhancements resulting from this research, in addition to benefitting Titomic, will allow Australia to be at the leading edge of a transformational shift of the global metals industry, utilising Australian technology and resources.

IMCRC CEO and managing director, David Chuter said the research project aims to explore opportunities to capitalise on Australia’s Titanium reserves.

“With metal additive manufacturing on the cusp of large scale industrialisation, this research project explores Titanium and its enhanced performance properties as an alternative for sustainable manufacturing across multiple industry sectors. When proven, this new technology not transforms additive manufacturing processes but provides Australia the opportunity to capitalise on the global demand for Titanium utilising our significant reserves of Titanium ore,” he said.

Metal Industries Program Director of CSIRO Manufacturing, Dr Leon Prentice, said the project could create new opportunities for Australia in the global markets.

“CSIRO is helping industry make the transition to advanced manufacturing, using innovative materials, systems, and processes to deliver products that meet the needs of their customers. This helps companies like Titomic create a sustainable competitive advantage, support productivity gains, and help capture emerging opportunities in local and global markets. We are pleased to deepen our long-term relationship with Titomic and RMIT, and look forward to profound impact from this project’s outcomes,” he said.

As part of the Project, improvements to CSIRO’s Background IP and the Project IP will be utilised by Titomic in accordance with the terms of the Licence Agreement between CSIRO and Titomic. The technology advancement will provide a new industry standard for titanium and titanium alloy, complex shaped structures manufactured using Titomic Kinetic Fusion.