LOS ANGELES American Titanium Works LLC (ATW) has revived plans to build its first titanium plate plant in South Carolina thanks to a new investment. The plans stalled four years ago due to the recession.
The Chicago-based producer received $430,000 this past week from SCRA Technology Ventures, a nonprofit company created by the government of South Carolina to help technology-based firms commercialize their products. ATW expects to produce both commercially pure and alloy plate from sponge and scrap.
"The project is moving ahead. Our plans have not changed," ATW president and chief executive officer Tom Sax told AMM, adding that the delays could be attributed "solely to the economic challenges of the last few years."
ATW recently entered into a turnkey contract with Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors Ltd. to build the facility in Laurens County, S.C., procure and install the process equipment, and commission the plant before turning it over to ATW, Sax said. No date has been set for construction start-up.
Two industry veterans remain connected with the project, according to Sax, a Chicago-based entrepreneur and attorney. Scott Jackson, founder and chairman of Canton, Ohio-based titanium melter and processor Galt Alloys Inc., which was sold in 1998 to RTI International Metals Inc., Pittsburgh, will be responsible for scrap processing and melting operations. Richard Dykast, of the former Oregon Metallurgical Corp., will head rolling operations.
The cost of the project has roughly doubled to some $500 million from the original estimate in 2008 (amm.com, Feb. 8, 2008). Sax, who said the increase was due to changes in the proposed plants processing equipment, declined to reveal how much of the investment has thus far been raised.
ATW expects to employ a combined 850 people at the plant and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville, where it plans to operate a technical center for developing applications.
"Everybody in the titanium industry knows that the automobile industry is a significant potential market" for titanium, Sax said, adding that ATW also intends to pursue traditional aerospace and industrial markets for titanium flat products.
ATW hasnt yet detailed its production process, but Sax said its "centerpiece" is equipment "designed to optimize the rolling of titanium."
Commercially pure plate is largely sold to nonaerospace titanium customers, while alloy plate is sold primarily for aerospace and other applications. Sax declined to give the plants targeted capacity.