Herbert Koeck, CEO
Since the first World War, establishing and sustaining a strong armed force has been regarded as critical to conventional defense excellence. For instance, throughout World War I, when countries fought for the dominion of the sky, fighter aircraft were developed to deny opposing forces the ability to acquire information by reconnaissance over the battlefield. By later standards, those early fighter jets were quite small and little equipped, and the majority were biplanes with a weak wooden frame to hard metals like iron or steel. Between the wars, wood was mostly replaced with metal tubes, and eventually, aluminum stressed skin structures (monocoque) began to dominate. By World War II, most fighter jets were armed with all-metal monoplanes. In fact, other new materials such as composites and alloys, including titanium, graphite, and fiberglass, also started becoming commonplace.
However, today, metallic and composite materials alike are being developed and improved to offer ever-increasing performance, whether that’s lighter weight, greater strength, or better heat and corrosion resistance. Alongside, most of the non-critical structural material – paneling and aesthetic interiors consist of even lighter-weight multi-metal engine parts and critical components. Accelerating this evolution of new materials, advancements in machining and cutting technology like additive manufacturing are giving manufacturers unprecedented access to materials, bringing new metals—that were previously hard to machine into necessary parts—to the defense material mix.
Taking additive manufacturing to the next level in this regard is Titomic, an Australian company offering new industrial-scale metal additive manufacturing possibilities with its patented Titomic Kinetic Fusion® (TKF) technology. With this unique technology, Titomic provides new, unmatched capabilities to create bespoke, multi-metal parts that are lighter and stronger, faster than ever before. The process utilizes high-performance metal alloys, including titanium, to create commercially viable, high-performance metal parts that compete directly with traditional manufacturing methods. With this versatile technology, Titomic serves the global aerospace, defense, shipbuilding, oil and gas sectors, and many other sectors.
More notably, with the in-house team of engineers and designers, Titomic offers comprehensive research and development services, leveraging deep expertise throughout metals manufacturing and material science. Besides, the company also partners with the world’s leading research institutions, including the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO), Australian Department of Defence, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), RMIT University, Swinburne University, and much more. Collaborating with these research partners, Titomic is undertaking a breadth of research and development programs to further the advancement of Titomic Kinetic Fusion® and the metals manufacturing sector.
The Roots of Excellence
The beginnings of Titomic can be traced back to 2007, when Jeff Lang, managing director and CTO of Titomic, was invited by the CSIRO to participate in an initiative named ‘Ore for More’ – a project that sought to utilize and add value to Australia’s abundant titanium mineral sands, from which ilmenite and rutile are extracted. Initially, he noted that these minerals could be transformed into metal powders for use in the emerging market of additive manufacturing. This led Lang and his team to explore how a larger volume of titanium could be used in manufacturing at scale and speed through new or existing technologies.
The research team looked particularly at cold spray (a technique of supersonically depositing metal particles onto a scaffold to create metal coatings) as a means to use titanium in additive manufacturing. It was found that not only was the process well-suited for additive manufacturing, but it also provided a range of unique advantages.
Building on this success, Lang went on to patent and licensed the technology via the CSIRO. And after extensive research and development, he established Titomic in 2014 to commercialize this technology, trademarking this novel manufacturing method as TKF. Today, with this technology, Titomic offers industrial-scale additive manufacturing capabilities that are delivered through TKF Manufacturing Systems, Titomic OEM, Certified R&D, and TKF Metal Powders.
A Unique Approach Powers Complex Manufacturing
Titomic’s TKF enables manufacturers to redefine the limits of what’s possible with metal manufacturing with high-performance metal alloys, including titanium, at unprecedented speed and without size limitations. It also increases productivity by reducing lead times for manufacturers from months to days. On the other hand, TKF also helps in reducing waste by 80 percent compared to traditional machining through near-net-shape manufacturing. How does it work? It begins by accelerating metal particles to supersonic speeds by injecting them into a jetstream. The particles exit the spray nozzle, and upon colliding with the surface, they plastically deform, sticking to the surface and also with each other. The build-up of these particles rapidly develops into necessary metal parts.
“The kinetic fusion technology is much more sustainable than laser beam powder bed fusion because we don’t need to use a high-energy laser beam to melt the particles; we connect the particles with the kinetic energy that comes from the speed,” underscores Herbert Koeck, CEO of Titomic.
Interestingly, Titomic’s TKF Bureau provides an advanced manufacturing facility that houses a full suite of TKF Manufacturing Systems. It includes the TKF 9000, TKF 1000, TKF production line, and TKF polishing cell, enabling end-to-end manufacturing capability. With this unmatched capability, TFK enables manufacturers to reduce lead times, unlock manufacturing of large, economic titanium parts, and simplify supply chains. This meets manufacturing needs by producing high-performance parts from beginning to end, all under one roof.
What’s more? Titomic partners with different powder suppliers across the world to provide manufacturers access to a wide variety of metal powders, comprising commercially pure titanium, copper, and steel, along with alloys such as invar 36 (FeNi36) or Ti-6Al-4V (alpha-beta titanium alloy).
Touching the Milestones of Excellence
Notably, Titomic received a 2.325 million-dollar Modern Manufacturing Initiative funding from the federal government for manufacturing and commercializing low-emission titanium space vehicle demonstrator parts using their adaptable TKF technology. “This project allowed us to demonstrate our unique capacity to use industrial-scale additive manufacturing for developing world-leading ‘low carbon footprint’ green titanium and high-performance coatings for satellites and space vehicles,” says Koeck.
THE KINETIC FUSION TECHNOLOGY IS MUCH MORE SUSTAINABLE THAN LASER BEAM POWDER BED FUSION BECAUSE WE DON’T NEED TO USE A HIGH-ENERGY LASER BEAM TO MELT THE PARTICLES
Around the same time, Titomic acquired Tri-D Dynamics, a Silicon Valley-based firm that designs and manufactures smart pipe infrastructure. Interestingly, Tri-D has always focused on upgrading and electrifying infrastructure by embedding electronics directly into metal structures to outfit them with modern connected technology. As a result of this acquisition, Titomic USA (the U.S. subsidiary of Titomic) would benefit from Tri-D’s existing product portfolio and contracts in a variety of industries, including clean technology, oil and gas, and surveying. “The acquisition of Tri-D is an important part of our U.S. strategy into the defense and aerospace industries, where there is a strong need for the cost and performance advantages which our market-ready solutions with best-in-class CSAM technology provide,” adds Koeck. Furthermore, having Titomic commercial and technical workers on the ground in North America is intended to enhance Titomic’s local presence while increasing the region’s service offering and product selection.
Leading the Way into the Future of Additive Manufacturing
Titomic’s drive to revolutionize the additive manufacturing space will continue being the thrust force behind the company as it innovates its technology to meet new challenges faced by manufacturers. Moving ahead, the company is also dedicated to providing complementary machinery and product portfolio, the combined expertise now available to further accelerate the company’s growth into new markets and provide current customers with a broader product offering. In the coming years, Titomic will keep improving its solutions and leading the charge for greater performance and efficiency of all types of industrial equipment