|Titanium: ITA Europe conference points to continued strong demand|
Posted on 16th May 2019 in General News.
Speakers at the International Titanium Association’s European conference, held 13-15th May in Vienna, reiterated the positive outlook for titanium driven principally by demand from the aerospace sector.
Thierry Viguier of engine-maker Safran noted that between 2016 and 2018 the company had achieved production rates for its LEAP engine that took 20 years to achieve for the CFM-56 and that it expects to deliver in 2019 around 1,800 LEAP engines, the Safran-built stages of which contain up to 30% more titanium than the older model.
Airbus’ Laurent Jara highlighted strong growth in passenger traffic and the requirement for 37,400 new aircraft by 2037, according to the company’s commercial market forecast which, Jara noted, was intentionally conservative. He also drew attention to Airbus’ record order-book backlog of 7,577 aircraft.
On the supply side, UKTMP’s Sylvain Gehler reported an increase in titanium sponge output in 2018 as well as an expansion of Chinese production capacity. Gehler cautioned that high feedstock prices, driven by demand from the much larger titanium dioxide pigment industry, threatened to impact the ability of producers to maintain the high levels of capacity utilisation required to meet strong future demand.
As the largest single end-use for titanium, continued positive growth forecasts within the commercial aerospace market will result in both opportunities and challenges for the titanium industry. Ongoing efforts to ramp-up the production of airframes and engines has put pressure on various points of the titanium supply chain. As Bessie Williams of Arconic noted in her speech to delegates, end-market demand was not an issue for the titanium sector, but rather the ability of the supply chain to deliver the backlog.
Additionally, titanium remains a high-cost material and OEMs are keen to encourage investments and innovations to improve the efficiency of titanium supply and use, to ensure it remains a cost-effective material. Related topics discussed at the event included the development of additive manufacturing and powder production technologies, as well as titanium metal recycling operations.
Indeed, the conference further highlighted the far-reaching applications for the high-strength, lightweight metal, with industrial users supporting titanium as the “metal of choice” for various anti-corrosion applications, while its biocompatibility has made it a popular metal for medical uses such as orthopaedics. Similarly, consumer markets such as architecture and kitchenware could rapidly expand their titanium use, particularly for higher-end projects and appliances.
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