2011 R&D 100 Winner
Titanium ingots are used as input stock to make rolled bars and fasteners, extruded shapes and tubes, and investment castings for aerospace and other applications. Producing these ingots is a costly batch process requiring vacuum or inert gas conditions. Manufacturers want large ingots to improve production efficiency, but these larger products require energy-intensive hot working to achieve the correct nanostructures.
RTI International Metals Inc., Niles, Ohio, has pioneered a more efficient way to create ingots with a smaller cross-section, avoiding the hot working step. Its Continuously Cast Titanium Near Net Ingots, developed with engineering and manufacturing support from the U.S. Army ARDEC RDAR-MEE, Materials Manufacturing and Prototype Technology Division, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., American Engineering & Manufacturing, Amherst, Ohio, and Advanced Design Industries Inc., Sheffield Village, Ohio, are made with a plasma arc melting furnace technology that has been adapted to a continuous process. Central to the process is the invention of a molten glass seal system that locks in gas but permits the withdrawal of the ingot. An oxy-fuel torch cuts the ingot during withdrawal, and a special robot extracts the ingot.
Benefits of continuously cast near net shape products compared to conventional manufacturing process include: reducing energy consumption 67%, processing time by more than 50%, material yield loss by as much as 50%, and productivity by as much as 150% for some applications.
Continuously cast titanium ingots
|(l-r): Steve Giangiordano, Kuang-O (Oscar) Yu, Mike Jacques|
The Continuously Cast Titanium Near Net Ingots Development Team
Kuang-O Yu, Principal Developer, RTI International Metals Inc.
Michael P. Jacques, Principal Developer, RTI International Metals Inc.
Rob DeGrange, RTI International Metals Inc.
Kurt Lauer, Advanced Design Industries Inc.
Stephen Luckowski, US Army ARDEC RDAR-MEE, Materials Manufacturing and Prototype Technology Division
Bert Newman, RTI International Metals Inc.
Shane Probst, RTI International Metals Inc.
Frank P. Spadafora, RTI International Metals Inc.
Michael Winiasz, American Engineering & Manufacturing