Australian metal additive manufacturing company Titomic Limited has announced a $2.6m program with the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), CSIRO and RMIT University to develop new industry standards based around its patented Titomic Kinetic Fusion (TKF) process.

The Additively Manufactured Titanium Complex Structures Project will focus on enhancing TKF as a transformational technology for the highest standards of aerospace and defence industries as outlined by The Metallic Materials Properties Development and Standardization (MMPDS). The MMPDS is a widely accepted source for metallic material and recognised by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA.

Currently, industries that use laser and electron beam melting processes in metal 3D printing have significant limitations due to the melting of the metal causing layering inclusions, evaporation of some alloys, and thermal distortion within the parts, meaning they cannot be certified for the production of aerospace structures components. The Titomic-led program will create new industry certification standards for the TKF process allowing it to be used for producing aerospace structures in continuation of the already approved processes for repairs on aircraft such as the B-1 bomber, F/A-18 Fighter and Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters.

Successfully creating new aerospace standards for the TKF process will help to position Titomic as a global leader in industrial-scale metal additive manufacturing, offering significant commercial opportunities for TKF as a next-generation digital manufacturing process of titanium and titanium alloy complex-shaped structures. In addition to benefitting Titomic, evidence and enhancements resulting from this research are expected to place Australia at the leading edge of a transformational shift of the global metals industry, utilising Australian technology and resources.

“The aerospace and defence industries are seeking new additive manufacturing capabilities for industrial-scale titanium alloy structures to improve upon time consuming, wasteful traditional subtractive manufacturing processes” said Titomic’s Managing Director Jeff Lang. “Titomic will utilise this IMCRC Project to develop Australian export capability for the supply of TKF systems and consumables to meet the demand of the aerospace and defence industries.”

The project partners IMCRC, CSIRO, RMIT University and Titomic will contribute a total of $2.6m in funding and in-kind investment, with Titomic and IMCRC each contributing $0.47m in cash over the two-year project period.

“With metal additive manufacturing on the cusp of large scale industrialisation, this research project explores Titanium and its enhanced performance properties as an alternative for sustainable manufacturing across multiple industry sectors,” said David Chuter, CEO and Managing Director of the IMCRC. “When proven, this new technology not only transforms additive manufacturing processes but provides Australia the opportunity to capitalise on the global demand for titanium utilising our significant reserves of titanium ore.”

As part of the project, improvements to CSIRO’s background IP and the project IP will be utilised by Titomic in accordance with the terms of the licence agreement between CSIRO and Titomic. The technology advancement will provide a new industry standard for titanium and titanium alloy, complex shaped structures manufactured using TKF.

“CSIRO is helping industry make the transition to advanced manufacturing, using innovative materials, systems, and processes to deliver products that meet the needs of their customers,” said Dr Leon Prentice, Metal Industries Program Director of CSIRO Manufacturing. “This helps companies like Titomic create a sustainable competitive advantage, support productivity gains, and help capture emerging opportunities in local and global markets. We are pleased to deepen our long-term relationship with Titomic and RMIT, and look forward to profound impact from this project’s outcomes.”

Professor Ivan Cole of RMIT added: “RMIT is proud to join with our partners on this exciting project to develop reliable and rapidly fabricated additive components for aerospace and defence industries. Our researchers will help to ensure reliable design of parts through numerical analysis of their stresses and mechanical properties, as well as microstructural studies of completed parts.”