Towards the end of last year, Norway-based Norsk Titanium got people talking here in the US when they announced their plan to build a giant, multi-million-dollar additive manufacturing plant in Plattsburgh, New York, greatly expanding their business and creating lots of new jobs. This week, the company released new details about the planned facility, and yes, it’s going to be big – and it’s going to involve big money. Norsk plans to invest $1 billion into the facility over the next 10 years, and the State of New York has invested $125 million.
What’s more, according to Norsk, the facility will be the world’s first industrial-scale aerospace additive manufacturing plant. Aerospace is one of the company’s prime areas of focus, and in the second quarter of 2015 they shipped 2.4 metric tons of titanium aerospace parts for certification testing – thanks to their patented Rapid Plasma Deposition (RPD) technology, which involves melting titanium wire in a set of plasma torches surrounded by argon, producing parts with the equivalent strength of forgings at a fraction of the cost and time required. The State of New York has already invested in 20 of Norsk Titanium’s MERKE IV RPD machines, in addition to releasing $4 million for the facility’s construction thus far.
“Norsk will do a couple of things: One, it will infuse our economy with up to 400 good-paying jobs,” Plattsburgh Town Supervisor Michael Cashman, who described the RPD technology as “magical” to watch, told WPTZ.com. “The other part to it is, this company is the first in the world, as far as the products its producing, so it continues to put our region on the map…Plattsburgh is already on the move and some great things are going to unfold in the weeks, months and years to come.”
The MERKE IV has been in development for 10 years, and it’s expected to save millions of dollars in not only aerospace production, but in automotive and naval manufacturing as well.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era in the way aircraft, marine vessels, automobiles, spacecraft and many industrial products are designed and built,” said Norsk Titanium President & Chief Executive Officer Warren M. Boley, Jr. “Not only are we creating jobs, huge economic impact and great visibility for the wider Plattsburgh community, we are also making history by kicking off a new phase of on-demand, near-net-shape manufacturing that sets a new benchmark of efficiency and customer responsiveness.”
The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2017, and it will open in partnership with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. The first 20 MERKE IV machines are expected to produce 400 metric tons of aerospace-grade structural titanium components, and Norsk anticipates ultimately doubling those amounts to 40 machines and 800 metric tons of parts.
In addition to the job creation and economic development provided by the production facility, Norsk Titanium will also impact the Plattsburgh region through workforce training and STEM outreach programs at SUNY Polytechnic along with other community colleges and schools in the area, with the support of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
Currently, Norsk Titanium is exhibiting a full-scale mock-up of the MERKE IV at the Farnborough International Airshow, which is running from July 11-15 in Farnborough, England. Discuss further in the Norsk 3D Printing Facility forum over at 3DPB.com.