Dec.9, 2013

For the first time, low-cost titanium powders, developed by Metalysis, have been used to 3D print automotive parts.

To date, the 3D printing revolution has focused on the use of plastics. Until now 3D printing with metal has been prohibitively expensive because of the cost of titanium powders which currently sell for $200-$400 per kilogram.

Metalysis, a metals manufacturer based in Rotherham in UK, near Sheffield, has developed a new way of producing low-cost titanium powder for 3D printing and will see greater use of titanium in components across the automotive, aerospace and defence industries.

The existing titanium production methods involves taking the metal sponge produced by the Kroll process, which is then processed into ingot billets, melted into bar form and finally atomised into powder. It is a costly and labour-intensive process and produces only small quantities of titanium.

Metalysis takes rutile and transforms it directly into powdered titanium using electrolysis. The Metalysis process has the advantage that the final product is in powder form. Advantages include the ability to tailor the powder size, purity, morphology and the alloying elements. Interest in such powdered alloys has accelerated in recent years due to the development of 3D printing.

By contrast, the Metalysis process can operate continuously which means it can be much cheaper. For example, using the Metalysis process, the price of titanium, which now costs about five times more than stainless steel, could fall by as much as 75%, according to Metalysis.

Metalysis confirmed last week that it is in discussions with commercial partners to build a titanium industrial plant in Yorkshire at a cost of anywhere between $50m and $500m to make low-cost titanium powder. Jaguar Land Rover has signalled its interest in this development.

Metalysis has worked closely with Sheffield University to develop this new technology. The Renishaw 3D printer, which is based at the Mercury Centre within the Department of Materials at Sheffield University, made the parts, demonstrating the feasibility of producing titanium components using additive layer manufacturing.

In a further development, Metalysis has also created titanium from rutile sand, a naturally occurring titanium ore present in beach sands, in one single step. The use of this inexpensive and plentiful feedstock for titanium manufacture will dramatically reduce the cost of titanium production.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, vice chancellor at Sheffield University, said: "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."

Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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Keahi Seymour wrote at 2/18/2015 10:24:47 PM:

Your process looks groundbreaking. If you need a new device that could advertise your process my invention of a Bionic Boot has been getting a lot of press within the last 3 months( over 1 million views on you tube). It could provide an great promotional platform for your company. My invention could also benefit as I am continually looking into reducing the weight of the product.

Ben wrote at 12/9/2013 7:58:40 PM:

Looks like I'm off to the beach guys!

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