Norsk Titanium’s technology is shaping the future of aerospace manufacturing

A crucial additive manufacturing technology has successfully achieved qualification for serial application by Airbus thanks to Norway’s Norsk Titanium (OTCQX:NORSF).

The company announced last week that its patented Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) technology has successfully achieved qualification and entered initial production for the renowned airplane manufacturer Airbus.

Airbus’ Germany-based wholly-owned subsidiary Premium Aerotec has placed an order for an initial structural part, Norsk Titanium (OTCQX:NORSF) revealed earlier in December.

RPD is a specific implementation of Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology, using a plasma arc as the energy source. Developed and commercialized by Norsk Titanium (OTCQX:NORSF) for specific applications, RPD® has particular significance for the aerospace industry.

Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is an additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology that involves the precise deposition of material using a focused energy source to produce complex structural parts in flexible production run sizes.

Strategic collaboration with manufacturers

As part of a strategic multi-year collaboration with Airbus, Norsk Titanium’s Merke IV machine and RPD process have received the green light for Airbus production to replace parts currently manufactured using legacy methods such as castings and forgings.

Nicholas Mayer, Vice President of Commercial at Norsk Titanium, told Proactive that the achievement is significant for the company because it continues its maturation of the commercial aerospace market following a similar collaboration with Boeing since 2017.

“This opens up the other half of the commercial market,” Mayer said. “We are now the only DED provider qualified to produce structural parts for both of those (aircraft manufacturers), marking a significant expansion in our capabilities.”

DED technology is integral to the future of aircraft manufacturing, offering a versatile solution to produce complex and customized components. In addition to 3D printing parts in serial production, DED plays a vital role in aircraft maintenance through rapid prototyping capabilities and reduced lead times, allowing for the repair and extension of the lifespan of critical components. Its flexibility in adjusting material properties and fostering innovative designs aligns with the aerospace industry’s goals of efficiency, precision, and sustainability.

Norsk Titanium’s RPD process is a cost-efficient 3D printing method for producing value-added metal parts. The proven additive manufacturing process for titanium parts offers notable technological and economic advantages, boasting reduced raw material consumption and more efficient manufacturing processes.

“RPD is the modern method to form metal that is, cleaner, quicker, cheaper than traditional castings and forgings,” Mayer said. “It brings metal forming into the digital age.”

Thanks to RPD, Norsk Titanium can produce raw forms from which parts can be extracted. Unlike the conventional method of shaping airplane parts by repeatedly smashing large blocks of titanium, the company prints almost the exact final shape, saving material, time, and machining costs.

Norsk Titanium has delivered the initial batches of DED blanks for Airbus A350 structural components, passing rigorous qualification, machining, and final inspections. The firm is in the final stages of delivering the order.

Expanding capabilities

The bulk of Norsk Titanium’s investments over the past few years has been directed towards obtaining materials specifications and qualifications in the aerospace sector – groundwork that Mayer told Proactive is “essential” because without the right specifications, selling products to vendors and primes is impossible. Having secured the necessary certifications, Norsk Titanium is now poised for a strategic pivot towards production.

In 2024, Norsk Titanium plans to shift from working with the development departments of prime contractors and OEMs to engaging directly with programs, identifying parts on platforms that can benefit from RPD. The goal is to work on business cases and individual part qualifications, facilitating the transition of these parts into production.

“Our focus is on transitioning as many parts as possible into production using our RPD technology,” Mayer said. “We’re showing that we can do what we promised and perform as intended.”


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