Titanium Metals Corp. (Timet)
has commissioned a plasma cold-hearth melt furnace at its
Morgantown, Pa., operations as it aims to boost its role in the
aerospace market with new melting capacity, while also
installing new titanium powder capabilities.
The addition of plasma-arc
melting will increase Timets ability to meet a growing
demand for "complex, high-temperature alloys" that will be used
extensively in the newest generation of aircraft engines, Timet
president and chief executive officer Bob OBrien
Dallas-based Timet is already a
major source of titanium produced by another cold-hearth
technologyelectron beam meltingvia an existing
furnace in Morgantown. The company said in documents filed with
the Securities and Exchange Commission last year that 46
percent of its total annual global melting capacity of 68,450
tonnes (about 150 million pounds) used electron-beam
technology, with more-conventional vacuum-arc remelting
accounting for nearly all of the balance.
Most observers agree that an
upturn in titanium demand that began in 2010 has been due
largely to engine-related consumption rather than
At the same time, Timet has
purchased "certain assets, intellectual property and know-how"
that will allow it to produce value-added titanium and other
specialty alloy "Prep" powders, the company said. The
technology is believed to refer to the plasma rotating
electrode process, although a Timet executive didnt
respond to a request for further comment.
Timet didnt reveal who
sold it the Prep assets, although the company said it has begun
installing and upgrading equipment and expects the powder
facility to be operational by the second half of this year. The
new capability will allow Timet to "efficiently achieve
near-net-shape manufacturing of complex parts," it said.
Timet isnt the only
producer adding to its cold-hearth melt capacity.
Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), believed to
have the largest plasma-arc melting capacity of any U.S.
titanium producer, noted recently that a fourth plasma-arc
melting furnace is in the qualification stage at its ATI Allvac
facility in Bakers, N.C. The furnace will support "growth in
demand for high-value products in 2012," according to ATI,
which also has electron-beam melting capacity in Richland,
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh-based RTI
International Metals Inc., looking to increase its profile in
the aerospace engine market, is augmenting its existing
plasma-arc melting capacity with a new electron-beam furnace
that is due to be completed by the end of 2012 and be
operational by 2013.
Last year, RTIwhich in mid-2011 estimated that less
than 20 percent of its aerospace business was on the engine
sidesigned its first long-term engine supply agreement in
years with Germanys MTU Aero Engines GmbH. The company
has said that it expects to be melting 4 million to 5 million
pounds per year for the engine market. Staff