Credit: NorskTitanium

Norsk Titanium, a producer of aerospace-grade structural titanium components using its patented Rapid Plasma Deposition® (RPD®) technology, has delivered a flight critical aircraft structure to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a defense and diversified technologies company known for the development of unmanned aircraft systems. GA-ASI is also a prime contractor to the US Department of Defense.

The announcement follows the recent expansion of Norsk Titanium’s part production capabilities at its Plattsburgh, New York, USA, facility. The expansion includes the addition of heat treatment, ultrasonic non-destructive testing (NDT), finish machining operations, and coordinate measuring (CMM).

In this specific case, the part delivered was produced under a development contract with GA-ASI’s Additive Design & Manufacturing Center of Excellence. Norsk Titanium has produced RPD® final machined components for test and evaluation. GA-ASI will conduct destructive testing in support of specification and part development.

For those who do not know, with Rapid plasma deposition® technology, titanium wire is melted in an inert atmosphere of argon gas and precisely and rapidly built up in layers to a near-net-shape part. According to Norsk Titanium, the result is significantly less machining, and ultimately, a 50%–75% improvement in buy-to-fly ratio compared with conventional manufacturing methods.

Read more: A look at the strategy that enables General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to reach beyond 75% of 3D printed parts in an aircraft.

General Atomics has been dedicated to maturing directed energy additive and implementing it in their production programs,” said Nicholas Mayer Norsk Titanium Vice President of Commercial, “After an extensive collaborative qualification effort over the past few years with Norsk Titanium, GA-ASI plans to apply the qualified process to structural components within their next generation platforms currently under development, and is planning on their first flight of a critical, structurally loaded component, within the 2024-2025 timeframe.”

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