Titanium metal production and additive manufacturing – two components of a vibrant new titanium industry for South Africa.
Greyling is the manager of commercialisation and national programmes at the CSIR National Laser Centre. He completed a degree in physics at the (then) Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg in 1985 after which he joined the CSIR as a scientist in the field of optical sciences. Greyling coordinates the CSIR’s Aeroswift project and manages several national laser-based research and development programmes. He is a member of the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa and served as the association’s chairperson until the end of November 2014.
About the talk: South Africa is the second largest producer of titanium-bearing minerals in the world and exports the bulk of the mineral in the form of titanium-bearing slag. The CSIR, together with the Department of Science and Technology, representatives from industry and various research councils, developed a strategic plan covering the full industry chain from titanium metal production to value-added manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing technology. Two of the programmes supported within this titanium beneficiation value chain are the CSIR’s primary titanium metal production programme and the high speed large area additive manufacturing programme called Aeroswift, which is a collaboration between the CSIR and Aerosud ITC, a private sector technology development firm in the commercial aerospace sector.
The titanium metal production programme is focused on developing a continuous process to produce titanium directly by metallothermic reduction of TiCl4 in molten salt, that is the by-product from the reaction. A pilot plant with a nominal production capacity of 2 kg Ti/h was built and recently commissioned. The titanium metal value chain is strengthened by the design and development of the world’s largest 3D powder bed fusion additive manufacturing system for Ti6Al4V component manufacturing. Project Aeroswift aims to develop a high-speed large-area additive manufacturing technology platform, with the goal to produce large parts in Ti6Al4V for the aerospace industry. The Aeroswift system was recently completed and is being commissioned. This paper an overview of these two programmes and progress made with developing these two technologies towards market readiness.
Co-author: Dr Dawie van Vuuren
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