Titanium Swarf to Engine Parts

Despite titanium being a highly valued manufacturing material in the automotive industry, the cost of turning surplus or waste by-products into usable materials is inhibitive for manufacturers … until now.

A grayscale image of a bag of swarf with two formed components sticking out

In a £1.8 million collaborative research and development project with Innovate UK, Professor Martin Jackson has been working on a means of taking swarf titanium and using it to reduce the financial cost of manufacturing titanium alloy components. Access to these alloys will be a game-changer for the automotive industry, allowing them to reduce car emissions whilst keeping these vehicles affordable.

Titanium alloys are not routinely used at present, due to the cost, but as we turn our focus ever more towards net zero targets the need to find a means of mass producing vehicles with reduced emission in a cost-effective way is increasingly pressing. 

Handily, the production of titanium swarf is only set to increase as it is considered a waste product of the aerospace sector (up to 70% of titanium used in the manufacturer of aerospace titanium components becomes swarf), but the FAST-forge process that has been developed here at The University of Sheffield uses this material to produce near net shape parts that only require light machining to turn them into affordable finished components.  

Access to equipment provided by the Henry Royce Institute (the University of Sheffield is one of their founding partners) was integral to the establishment of this process that stands to reduce the cost of titanium alloy parts by up to 80% whilst maintaining, or even enhancing, the performance and strength of the finished parts. 

This is the first demonstration of recycling titanium alloy swarf into high-value automotive engine components, assisting the industry in achieving cost effective, lightweight, low emission engines, and could be applied to other UK industries such as offshore, rail, aerospace, defence and other engine applications.