Titanium powders produced at the CSIR explored for downstream processing
The CSIR has overcome significant technical challenges to produce titanium metal powder for various applications at its semi-batch pilot processing plant. The CSIR produced high purity Ti-6Al-4V alloy powders (Grade 5) suitable for the aerospace industry and large aircraft manufacturers.
The titanium pilot plant was constructed following the development of a novel, CSIR-patented process to produce primary titanium metal. While South Africa has large reserves of titanium-bearing minerals, the ability to economically extract the mineral from the mineral concentrate, using the CSIR process, will help create a new downstream industry. A Titanium Centre of Competence (TiCoC), funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and hosted at the CSIR, had been established in 2009, pooling local skills in this domain, including those at six local tertiary education institutions.
TiCoC is in the process of securing ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for its powder characterisation laboratory to qualify the powder and to ensure that it meets international standards.
The titanium powders produced at the CSIR are being explored for use in various downstream manufacturing processes such as additive manufacturing, powder metallurgy and investment casting. All these manufacturing processes and the advanced facilities at the CSIR are used to design, develop, manufacture and test metallic materials, mill products and components.
The DST has committed R105 million over three years to enable TiCoC to implement its titanium powder acceleration plan with the Industrial Development Corporation as partner.
The TiCoC team has recently been awarded the prestigious National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF)-South 32 Award in the category for research leading to innovation.
Dr Robert Tshikhudo