Titanium Powder Supplier IperionX Completes HAMR Furnace Installation at Virginia Campus

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IperionX, the Charlotte-based manufacturer and supplier of US-sourced titanium products, has installed the Hydrogen Assisted Metallothermic Reduction (HAMR) furnace at its Titanium Manufacturing Campus in South Boston, Virginia. The company plans to begin producing titanium powder at the facility sometime in the middle of this year, with anticipated production rates of 125 metric tons annually by year-end 2024, and 2,000 metrics tons per year by 2026.

The HAMR process, developed by Dr. Zak Fang, formerly a program director for the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and now a materials science professor at the University of Utah, enables titanium production using less energy than the long-dominant Kroll process. IperionX built its business model on combining the principles of lower carbon emissions in the production process and avoiding reliance on overseas sources at every step in the titanium supply chain.

In a press release about IperionX’s installing the HAMR furnace at its Virginia Titanium Manufacturing Campus, the company’s CEO, Anastasios (Taso) Arima, said, “The deployment of our advanced HAMR titanium furnace at the Virginia facility is another crucial step to reshore a full ‘end to end’ titanium supply chain within the United States. This furnace has a similar capacity to existing furnaces used in the incumbent industry’s Kroll process, but with far less energy consumption and lower complexity to unlock a range of higher value manufactured titanium products. The successful commissioning and production from this furnace is the cornerstone for a transformation of the US titanium industry to manufacture high-performance, low cost titanium alloys for advanced American industries.”

IperionX is an asset not only for the US additive manufacturing (AM) industry, itself, but additionally, for anyone trying to analyze that industry’s trajectory, specifically in terms of gauging the progress of the US’s domestic buildup of its metal AM capacity. IperionX’s projections may only give us insight into the titanium market segment, but even this is highly useful information, as the company’s accelerated activity suggests that there may be disproportionate demand growth in the titanium AM market in the US over the next several years.

In October, 2023, in the Department of Defense (DoD) announcement of an award of $12.7 million to IperionX — funds that went toward advancing the objective of operationalizing the Virginia plant — the DoD mentioned that IperionX aims to produce 10,000 metric tons of titanium annually within five years. Paired with the information from IperionX’s latest announcement, this would mean an eightfold increase in production capacity from the end of 2024 to the end of 2026, and a fivefold increase from the end of 2026 to the end of 2028.

IperionX also recently announced a ten-year deal with Wisconsin-based group of contract manufacturers United Stars for up to 80 metric tons a year. If IperionX’s projections are accurate, this would mean that the company may be servicing the equivalent of 125 such contracts by 2028. There are many “ifs” here, but even if the company has wildly overestimated its growth rate, the projections still suggest a consistently robust increase in US demand for metal 3D printers through the end of this decade.

Images courtesy of IperionX

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