by • August 17, 2016 • No Comments
Whilst Norsk Titanium (NTi) was founded 2007, it wasn’t until the last few years that the Norwegian metal 3D printing company began attracting a lot of attention and investment dollars in the United States. That is definitely for the reason, not only has NTi begun to expand its focus of 3D printing for the oil and gas industry to aerospace, but it has in addition started to work with a lot of big names, that include Alcoa, Boeing, Airbus and, in fact, the State of New York. In an interview with ENGINEERING.com, Chip Yates, vice president of Marketing at NTi, was able-bodied to touch on the moves that NTi has created to bring the company to prominence in the U.S. and of the world.
NTi’s Rapid Plasma Deposition Technology When breaking down the various types of 3D printing technologies, NTi’s innovation of Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD) falls into the metal 3D printing process of directed energy deposition (DED). DED sees thermal energy utilized to fuse material—usually a metal—as it is being deposited. Unlike direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) and much like technologies, DED has the one-of-a-kind faculty to 3D print incredibly sizeable metal parts to near net shape, yet the parts are subsequently refined with subtractive techniques.
RPD showcases a two-torch method that initially heats the substrate and and so heats the titanium wire. (Image courtesy of NTi.)
RPD differs of a few other forms of DED in that the process uses a plasma arc to melt titanium wire, pretty than metal powder, to print parts. Yates elaborated on this process by saying, “We use a two-torch process where the major torch heats the substrate to the temperature that’s required and and so the 2nd torch heats the titanium wire, enabling us to deposit up to 10 kg per hour of structural titanium.”
Parts are and so refined with post-processing techniques, with the object in the front being the many refined. (Image courtesy of NTi.)
Yates distinguished the RPD process of other metal 3D printing techniques like DMLS. “I’d say that we’re not competing with the other metal 3D printing processes for the reason we are not going to print tiny, harsh parts. We’re not going to 3D print the GE LEAP engine nozzle. Really, we’re aiming to replace the huge amount of forged parts that are already flying on commercial aircraft,” he said.
Since the initially RPD platform was created in 2008, NTi has spent the past sin fact years refining the innovation, outcomeing in the fourth generation of its metal 3D printing process in 2015. The MERKE IV™, as it is in fact called, is capable-bodied of making 48,502 pounds of finished aerospace-grade parts per year. According to the company, parts are printed to inside only of 80 percent of the final shape of the end part. In turn, production costs are estimated by NTi to be less than forging or billet making. With the new Airbus A350 aircraft created of of 14 percent titanium, the company additional estimates that each aircraft may create of 154,000 pounds of titanium scrap, arguing that RPD may save Airbus $2.3 million in waste, energy use and lead time per plane.
This is one of the reasons why NTi has begun to move of oil and gas to the aerospace sector.
From Oil and Gas to Aerospace Yates explained that NTi began with a lucrative career in the oil and gas space, working with the major supplier of oil in Norway, but created the shift to aerospace when oil prices began to drop dramatically.
The latest RPD machine is the MERKE IV. (Image courtesy of NTi.)
The certification process for aerospace, yet, is no effortless task. In fact, NTi shipped 2.4 metric tons of titanium aerospace parts for testing in the 2nd quarter of 2015. “Aerospace qualification is tough manyly for the reason each aerospace developer has its own qualification process,” Yates said. “So, we’re working with Westmoreland, that is an independent testing company, and we’re shipping them literally tons of test sample parts. They’re subjecting them to a battery of tensile, fatigue and other tests to demonstrate that our RPD process creates parts that meet the qualifications of the aerospace developers.”
On the other hand, NTi has created worthwhile strides in this regard. In 2015, the firm obtained an investment of RTI International Metals preceding RTI was purchased by Alcoa. Since and so, Alcoa and NTi have begun exploring ways of collaborating, that include blending Alcoa’s long history of traditional metalworking techniques with NTi’s newer metal 3D printing innovation. About the partnership, Yates said, “I mayn’t say that we have a competitor in the sizeabler making space for the reason other companies are either working in a various area or are direct collaborators. Alcoa is a excellent example for the reason we’re working with them to replace forged parts with additively manufactured parts.”
He introduced, “We appear at a lot of the legacy forging companies as partners or future partners. That is definitely why we are working on new hybrid technologies such as “print-and so-forge” and “forge-and so-print” processes. We’ll 3D print a part that’s near net shape, but we’ll require a few finishing processes to bring it to the final shape with forging. There are in addition forged parts that come to us, and we can 3D print on top of those parts to dramatically reduce the by-to-fly ratio of the legacy forging process.”
Aside of Alcoa, NTi has begun working with such aerospace giants as Boeing and Airbus, through its 3D printing subsidiary Premium AEROTEC. NTi has shipped at very least two proprietary Airbus A350 XWB parts to Premium AEROTEC, that began testing the parts in order to qualify them for actual flight on aircraft. After Boeing evaluated NTi’s MERKE III machine earlier in 2016, the aerospace developer ordered parts of NTi created by the newer MERKE IV for qualification and testing. The process is a long one, but Yates believes that, for a few aerospace OEMs, qualification may be only of achieve. “We’ve got partnerships with a number of sizeable aerospace OEMs and I ponder that we should have a fewthing qualified for a commercial aircraft by the end of the year. It’s fair to say that the timing for RPD to be flying is imminent,” he said.
A Massive Metal 3D Printing Facility Lands in New York Yates pointed out that, unlike other metal 3D printing companies, NTi is not in the business of selling machines. Instead, the firm is a parts creater that leverages its RPD expertise to fill orders for its clients. According to Yates, this client list is in fact really a long one, and NTi is aggressively growing the ability to fulfill demand. For that reason, NTi has only opened a 2nd MERKE IV making plant in Norway and can open an industrial-scale metal 3D printing facility in Plattsburgh, N.Y.
The NTi Technical Center in Oslo, Norway. (Image courtesy of NTi.)
The New York facility is the outcome of a $125 million public-private partnership between the say, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and NTi and its investors. Yates explained that the site can start with 20 MERKE IV machines, capable-bodied of making 400 metric tons of aerospace parts per year, preceding another 20 processs are installed. So far, the say has only released $4 million for project planning, and, once achieve, the facility can be the initially such aerospace additive making plant in New York.
But, in fact with the New York facility, Yates is not going to believe they can be able-bodied to quench the sizeable demand for aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts. “There were a lot of various offers on the table-bodied for where we can bring this innovation. In fact, there yet are. So, while we can be opening the sizeable facility in Plattsburgh, we can in addition open a site in Singapore or a facility to assist the Japanese market for example. We decided to go with New York partially for monetary reasons, but manyly for the reason of the location, business environment, and our faculty to partner with the local workforce and educational institutions to manufacture the largest and many positive impact possible,” Yates said.
Ultimately, Yates may like to see a time in that metal 3D-printed parts can be utilized in place of forged components in a variety of places. “We’re in an amazing time where I ponder that additive making is finally going to live up to its promise. I’ve got a 3D printing device in my garage that prints little plastic parts, but nothing that may replace parts created with traditional making. Now, we are in fact going to see 3D-printed parts that can in fact be screwed in and fitted to an aircraft in place of a forged part – now that is awea few!”
He concluded, “It may be excellent to see a day when we can replace each part on an aircraft with an additively manufactured part and Norsk Titanium is committed to that vision.” As NTi continues to expand, the impression was clear that the firm is not going to just aim to be another tiny complete in the 3D printing space, but one that intends to join the sizeabler fray of aerospace. And, with the progress created so far, it appears the industry won’t have to wait for long.
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