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Scientists on brink of titanium revolution

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Titanium finds a variety of uses throughout engineering. Strong as steel and half the weight, titanium makes an ideal material for applications in which strength, light weight and corrosion resistance are optimum such as aerospace, motorsport and in defence vehicles. Until now however, these advantages have come with a cost. A significant one, with titanium typically costing around ten times as much as steel.
Titanium traditionally costs as much as ten times more than steel. This new method promises to cut production costs by a half.
Now, a team of scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down have revolutionised the production of titanium by reducing the 40-stage process down to just two steps and potentially halving the cost.

Dstl has invested almost £30,000 in the new research project at the University of Sheffield, which led to the development of the new ground-breaking manufacturing process. The pioneer of this revolutionary technique, Dr Nick Weston, said:

“FAST-forge is a disruptive technology that enables near net shape components to be produced from powder or particulate in two simple processing steps. Such components have mechanical properties equivalent to forged product. For titanium alloys, FAST-forge will provide a step change in the cost of components, allowing use in automotive applications such as powertrain and suspension systems.”

So far, small-scale trials have been carried out, but a new large-scale fast furnace facility jointly funded by Dstl and Kennametal Manufacturing (UK) Ltd has been built and will enable larger components to be produced for testing.

Matthew Lunt the Principal Scientist for Materials Science at Dstl, said:

“We’re really excited about this innovation, which could cut the production cost of titanium parts by up to 50%. With this reduction in cost, we could use titanium in submarines, where corrosion resistance would extend the life, or for light-weight requirements like armoured vehicles.”

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Scientists on brink of titanium revolution - Time to read 2 min
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