WILMINGTON, US - DuPont today announced a new process for making high-purity titanium metal powder that could reduce cost and substantially boost efficiency in parts manufacturing. Titanium is a strong, lightweight and durable metal, but has long been reserved for applications that could justify its historical high cost.
The new process, developed with Honeywell Electronic Materials, makes titanium metal powder which can then be pressed into desired shapes. It will allow manufacturers to make parts faster, with less machining and significantly less scrap, while yielding virtually the same strength and weight characteristics as machined titanium.
"This new technology makes titanium more affordable so more industries will now be able to harness its strength and weight advantages," said Rick Olson, vice president and general manager of DuPont Titanium Technologies. "This project is possible only because of DuPont's expertise in chemical and particle science and Honeywell's manufacturing process."
To make complicated parts from the alloy, manufacturers currently must machine them from large, solid pieces of titanium, a process that creates large amounts of scrap. For example, parts manufacturers in the aerospace industry often must buy approximately eight times more titanium than will be in the finished part, a process that is only about 13 percent efficient. The powder form of the metal can be converted with nearly 90 percent efficiency, depending upon the complexity of the part.
DuPont will market the titanium powder and is working with a number of manufacturers in the aerospace, military, automotive and chemical processing industries on parts designs made feasible by the new material's affordability. Commercial quantities are expected to be available in October. Applications range from military uses such as howitzers and missile steering mechanisms to sporting goods components such as bicycle sprockets.
"We are excited about this joint effort with DuPont because it allows us to diversify into new high-growth industries while building on our expertise developed from providing titanium and other metals for the semiconductor industry," said Dmitry Shashkov, metals segment leader for Honeywell Electronic Materials.
The effort announced today was developed by DuPont Titanium Technologies, the world's largest producer of titanium dioxide (TiO2). TiO2 is a white pigment used widely in the coatings, plastics and paper industries.