WICHITA, Kan., June 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., [NYSE: SPR] and Norsk Titanium Components AS (NTiC), reached a significant milestone in a multi-year collaboration for Direct Metal Deposition (DMD) technology. Together the companies have achieved technology readiness level six (TRL6), demonstrating the ability to meet aerospace material requirements.
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NTiC has developed a "near-net-shape" manufacturing technology that enables titanium components to be built up close to the final shape using titanium feedstock instead of a large titanium block. The process reduces waste, uses less energy and is significantly faster.
"This is a significant achievement for the aerospace industry," said Bill Smith, Spirit AeroSystems director of technology development. "Titanium is an expensive and difficult material to manufacture. By having near-net-shape product forms, Spirit is able to reduce costs. Additionally, this direct from digital process can reduce the time to market for new parts by at least 60 percent."The process transforms titanium feedstock into complex components that are up to 70 – 80 percent complete. Traditional titanium machining may utilize only 10 percent of the raw material with 90 percent of it discarded as waste. In addition to significantly reducing the amount of raw material used, the process provides much shorter lead times, design flexibility, and reduces the overall cost to machine parts. "The aerospace industry is by far the largest and most demanding titanium segment in the world, and achieving TRL6 is a major milestone," said Jon Andre Lokke, CEO of NTiC. "We are very pleased with the cooperation and support we have from Spirit and we are now eager to complete the qualification process and start producing parts for the aerospace industry." Spirit and NTiC have worked closely to develop NTiC's DMD process for producing Ti6Al4V material for use in commercial aerospace applications. The milestone confirms the capability of NTiC's material to meet the requirements for aircraft structural components.