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Titanium in the Aircraft Manufacturing Industry

The aerospace industry is one of the leading users of Titanium (Ti), and the development of aircraft components from the element has grown tremendously after the discovery of its capability. The technologies surrounding the development of airplanes has only increased the demand for Titanium. Aside from the commercial aerospace industry, the military also has driven demand for the element. The United States, for example, is one of the countries with the largest demands for Ti in its commercial and military purposes. The titanium additive manufacturing industry is booming as a large number of clients are looking for more innovative and cost effective airplane parts made of Ti.

The two largest commercial airplane manufacturers in the world today – Boeing and AirBus – have a huge demand for the element. Titanium components are being increasingly employed in aircraft from Boeing, AirBus and other firms around the world. Without using Titanium as the base metal for their airplanes, performance losses from increased weights would reduce efficiencies and harm flight characteristics. With smaller production runs and more specialized components of greater complexity, the need for 3D printing titanium will rise in the coming years.

The amount of Titanium used by commercial aerospace projects is dwarfed in comparison with the demand from the defense industry. Aircraft manufacturers supplying the military with advanced metal components are saying that an increasing amount of Ti is required to build the airplanes that the military orders, including F-22s, C-17s, and UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters. As a result, the United States and other militaries are conducting partnerships and research programs to reduce the cost of titanium production including additive metal manufacturing processes like the ADDere system. With 3D printing, possibility of increasing the utility of Titanium increases as the limitations and cost of production from conventional processes are vastly mitigated.

Many experts believe that aside from using the element to build today’s airplanes, engineers of the future will find increasing methods for using the material to extend the capabilities of aircraft in the future. With the speed of material science developments, the idea of hypersonic flight becomes more and more a possibility and using Ti will unlock the possibility to travel at those speeds. But for now, the experts are still looking for the endless possibilities of using the element in the extending of today’s airplane operational efficiency.

The outlook is bright for manufacturing aerospace components in various titanium alloys as newer manufacturing processes like ADDere’s laser wire additive manufacturing systems begin to take center stage in the low run and prototyping aspects of titanium component production. The metal 3D printing industry is positioned to allow for reducing today’s production constraints as well as being able to fully utilize Titanium’s unique properties in a more cost effective manner.  

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