A consortium comprising the world’s leader in aircraft landing gear, a leading specialist metals producer and two of the UK’s leading universities is working on FASTForge, a project aimed at the production of aerospace-grade titanium at a third of the current price.
The partners working on the FASTForge project include Safran Landing Systems (formerly Messier-Bugatti-Dowty); Metalvsis; the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), and the University of Sheffield.
Through FASTForge, the consortium is aiming to produce novel titanium alloy aerospace components in three steps from rutile sand – a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide. Found In plentiful quantities in Australia, South Africa and India. The aim is to develop a novel low-cost titanium forging production process, unique to the UK, which could become a key enabler for the introduction of more titanium on aerospace components – leading to lighter aircraft and reduced emissions.
It will also enable the Introduction or increased use of titanium, a light and non-corrosive material, in other industries such as rail, automotive, heavy duty construction and defence.
FASTForge will seek to develop the raw material process; establish how it can be embodied in a new UK supply chain; develop cost effective manufacturing techniques, and prove the capability in a landing gear application.
The FASTForge partners have tightly defined roles:
Safran Landing Systems will manage the project, provide the specifications for the component, test it and assess where else the process could be applied to their products.
Metalysis will create the powder titanium alloy from the rutile sand.
The AFRC, one of the seven elite centres which make up the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and the University of Sheffield will model the manufacturing process steps and optimise the preform and forging die designs to minimise the material used in the end product.
The AFRC will also model and optimise the forging parameters and forge the final component shape. Together with Sheffield, the centre will also analyse the material properties of the intermediate and finished components to ensure they meet the stringent requirements of the landing gear application.
Rolls-Royce has raised its cost-saving targets in a bid to cut between £150m and £200m from its budget.
The aero engine maker said the savings would be at the top end of its target amid a challenging period ahead. The company said demand for its engines for extra wide body aircraft had stayed strong. Rolls were losing ground in business aviation, while problems in offshore oil and gas markets meant its marine orders were “very weak”.
Chief executive Warren East said: “We have made steady progress in 2016 to date, delivering a ramp up in large engine production and implementing the first stage of our transformation programme. “At the same time we have managed well mixed markets for our marine and power systems businesses.”