Norsk Titanium AS is the world’s pioneering supplier of aerospace-grade, additively manufactured, structural titanium components. The company is distinguished in the aviation industry by its patented Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD™) 3D printing technology that transforms titanium wire into complex components suitable for structural and safety-critical applications.
Norsk Titanium’s RPD™ is the world’s first FAA-approved, 3D-printed, structural titanium, delivering substantial lead-time and cost savings for aerospace, defence, and commercial customers.
In this article, we will dig deep into the technology to understand this patented 3D printing technology.
Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD™) – A DED 3D Printing Technology
Norsk Titanium is completely focused on metallurgy since the very beginning. The superior metallurgy expertise is clearly visible across part geometries, RPD™ machines, and Norsk Titanium sites in the United States and Europe.
From a long time, forging is considered as one of the major production technology to manufacture strong parts. Through Norsk Titanium’s patented Rapid Plasma Deposition™ (RPD™) process, titanium can be utilised to manufacture parts previously not possible. It also simplifies the entire process flow.
In the Rapid Plasma Deposition process, titanium wire is precisely melted with an inert gas, like argon, environment. This melted metal is then rapidly built up in subsequent layers, just like in case of any additive manufacturing method, to a near-net-shape product. The resulting product has greater strength and durability compared to regular forge-based approach. More importantly, the product requires significantly less machining with the final part delivered in an on-demand environment.
Merke IV: The Machine behind Rapid Plasma Deposition™
The MERKE IV is Norsk Titanium’s 4th generation 3D printing machine. It runs on the patented RPD™ 3D printing technology. On average, the MERKE IV can produce 10-20 metric tons annually. This machine is capable of taking forging to the next level by augmenting it to the on-demand environment to help aerospace companies rapidly produce complex structural components.
Some Specifications of MERKE IV:
- Part build size: 900mm x 600mm x 300mm
- Layer dimensions: H = 3–4 mm; W = 8–12 mm
- Deposition rate: 5–10 kg/hour
In Norsk Titanium’s machines, the process is monitored more than 600 times per second for quality assurance. This sort of rapid additive manufacturing method delivers huge time and cost advantages to the entire forging industry
Reduced machining also leads to less tooling and energy usage, which are significant cost drivers for titanium parts. The end result is reduced production cost for finish titanium parts, ultimately benefiting the customer and also having an improved environmental footprint.
RPD technology mostly utilises titanium wire as it is heavily used in the aerospace industry but the technology works equally well with other metals like Nickel alloys, tool steel, and stainless steel.
Rapid Plasma Deposition Manufacturing Methods
The Rapid Plasma Deposition technology can be used in three different methods as mentioned below:
This is the most basic method to manufacture parts in an RPD 3D printing technology machine. In this method, metal parts can be additively manufactured to a near-net-shape and later machined to create the final usable product.
Since the technology offers manufacturing flexibility, the Norsk Titanium RPD™ process allows the user to print the forging form that can then go into the forging die. This reduces material, lead-time, and the capital of several of the forging dies.
As the patented technology is capable of printing on any suitable surface, it can print on forged parts as well. So users can directly forge the basic parts in a regular forge and then print the complicated features of the forgings later by printing them by Norsk Titanium RPD™ 3D printing technology. Thus, a more simplified forging can be used to make a more complicated part. For example, bosses on turbine engine cases can be added to ring-rolled forgings. Forge-then-print reduces the amount of material in the ring-rolled forging as well as the machining required.
The technology is most suitable in the aerospace industry and it is very successful in the same industry. Norsk Titanium is a tier 1 supplier to Boeing and is committed to cost-reducing aerostructures and jet engines for the world’s premier aerospace manufacturers. Apart from aerospace, Norsk Titanium’s technology also caters to the defence and space sector, engine manufacturing, maintenance repair & overhaul.
In the coming future, Norsk Titanium has set its sights on the transportation industry. As municipalities levy green requirements on their light rail systems, rail car weights have become critical, and use of titanium is increasing in new designs.
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