News & Events

FAST-forge in the news

The CDT FAST-forge project, a novel way of producing near-net-shape titanium components from as few as two processing steps, has been in the news this week following an announcement by the defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

“Our Armed Forces use titanium in everything from cutting-edge nuclear submarines and fighter jets through to life-changing replacement limbs – but production time and costs mean we haven’t always used it. This ground-breaking method is not only faster and cheaper but could see a huge expansion of titanium parts and equipment throughout the military. It is a clear example of how our world-class scientists are working behind the scenes to help our Armed Forces as well as bringing prosperity and security to Britain.”

The process gets its name from the Field Assisted Sintering Technology used to produce a preformed billet, close to the size and shape of the finished part (near net shape) directly from titanium alloy powders, before a single hot forging operation produces the final part. It was developed by CDT graduate, Dr Nick Weston, during his PhD project. under the supervision of Dr Martin Jackson.

Nick Lyndsey SPSS

So far, small-scale trials have been carried out, but a new large-scale fast furnace facility jointly funded by Dstl and Kennametal Manufacturing (UK) Ltd has been built and will enable larger components to be produced for testing.

Matthew Lunt the Principal Scientist for Materials Science at Dstl said:

“We’re really excited about this innovation, which could cut the production cost of titanium parts by up to 50%. With this reduction in cost, we could use titanium in submarines, where corrosion resistance would extend the life, or for light-weight requirements like armoured vehicles.”

References

Weston NS, Jackson M. FASTforge − a new cost-effective hybrid processing route for consolidating titanium powder into near net shape forged components. Journal of Materials Processing Technology. 2017:243;335-346. Link

Weston NS, Derguti F, Tudball A, Jackson M. Spark plasma sintering of commercial and development titanium alloy powders. Journal of Materials Science. 2015;50(14):4860-78. Link

Links to Media Coverage

  • Porton Down scientists on brink of titanium revolution [www.gov.uk]
  • UK Defense Secretary at Porton Down Announces Titanium Production Breakthrough [EMS NOW]
  • News item on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Radio Wiltshire, BBC World Service World Business Report - 26th March 2018
  • Ministry of Defence lab streamlines titanium process, halves the cost [Cycling Industry News]
  • Porton Down Revolutionises Production Of Titanium [Forces Network]
  • UK defence technology breakthrough could cut titanium parts production costs by half [Engineering News]
  • Military method slashes titanium production by 50% [Eureka]
  • British scientists close to new method to produce titanium with cost halved [www.china.org.cn]
  • Titanium costs halved with new process [Supply Management]
  • Porton Down scientists claim to have slashed the costs of making titanium [V3]
  • Porton Down develops 'ground-breaking' method for producing titanium [Salisbury Journal]
  • UK Ministry of Defence announces disruptive titanium technology, Metalysis increases funding [3D Printing Industry]

Further details of the development of the FAST-forge project can be downloaded in the case study below.