Titanium used to 3D print automotive parts

A UK company has found a way to produce titanium powder at a much lower cost than was previously possible.

The breakthrough, it says, will enable 3D printed metal parts to be created cheaply enough for low-to-medium volume production in the automotive, aerospace and defence industries.

The process is also said to be more environmentally-friendly compared to existing production methods, such as the energy-intensive and toxic Kroll process.

The development, made by Rotherham-based company Metalysis, enables titanium powder to be created directly from rutile sand - a naturally occurring titanium ore present in beach sands - using only electrolysis.

"We believe the process could reduce the price of titanium by as much as 75%, making it almost as cheap as specialty steels," said company ceo Dion Vaughan.

So far, the metal powder has been used by researchers at Sheffield University to make parts for the automotive industry.

University Vice Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett, commented: "Most people associate 3D printing with plastic parts, but, with Metalysis' titanium powder, we have for the first time demonstrated its potential in the manufacturing of metal parts.

"This is potentially a significant breakthrough for the many sectors which can benefit from its low-cost production."

Author
Laura Hopperton

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