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Porton Down Scientists on Brink of Titanium Revolution


27 March 2018

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in Porton Down has revolutionised the production of titanium by reducing the 40 stage process down to just two steps and potentially halving the cost. 

Titanium is as strong as steel and half the weight - but around ten times the cost. It is notoriously difficult and expensive to make which limits its wider use.

Titanium’s high strength, light weight and corrosion resistance sees it widely used in defence, in military aircraft and submarines, but its high production costs make it difficult to justify in all but essential areas.

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 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.

Source: Dsti