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Methods to reduce cost and improve economy of titanium and titanium alloy materials

Titanium and titanium alloys are widely used in aerospace, aviation and other core manufacturing industries due to their low density, high strength and good toughness. In addition, its role in petroleum, metallurgy and chemical industry is irreplaceable. This paper expounds the special functions and application scope of titanium and titanium alloys, and analyzes and summarizes the measures to realize low-cost processing of titanium and titanium alloys by comparing the prices of various titanium alloys and other metals in recent years. The application examples of titanium and titanium alloys, stainless steel and other alloys in the condensation pipeline of naval ships are compared by using professional economic analysis methods. Based on the results of several economic programs, it is concluded that titanium and titanium alloy materials should be vigorously promoted under the original conditions of price, output and production cost.

Titanium and titanium alloy materials are widely used in many cutting-edge scientific and technological manufacturing fields, such as ships, aerospace, spacecraft, etc., because of their high application value. At the same time, titanium and titanium alloys also play a very important role in chemical production, petroleum, electricity and other industries that determine the lifeblood of the national economy. However, due to the limitation of traditional concepts, people’s understanding of alloy is still generally confined to aluminum alloy, alloy steel and other metal materials, which are relatively low-cost and have a wider range of applications. In the future, with the development of high-end manufacturing, the advantages of titanium and titanium alloy materials will be highlighted, and the application scope will be further expanded.
Compared with aluminum alloy and alloy steel materials, the cost of titanium and titanium alloy materials is much higher, which leads to their poor promotion and application range and speed. In addition to the high production cost, another reason that affects the promotion of titanium materials is that the output of titanium and titanium alloys is small, which cannot meet the actual market demand at this stage. By comparing various indexes of titanium and titanium alloys with other alloy materials, this paper clarifies the application advantages and comprehensive market competitiveness of titanium materials.

1. Analysis of economic benefits of titanium and titanium alloys

1.1 Continuous improvement of titanium material output

According to the statistics of relevant departments, the price of titanium alloy has been decreasing in the past 10 years, while its output and application scope have increased and expanded faster than other alloys, and the output has shown a trend of continuous growth, laying an important foundation for expanding the market application scope of titanium materials.

1.2 Highlighted advantages of titanium alloy materials

With the rapid development of titanium material processing technology in China, its output and quality are on the rise, which also directly affects the overall price of titanium materials, making the price of titanium materials in a reasonable position. Taking titanium alloy materials for ships as an example, the application advantages of titanium alloy materials are obviously higher than traditional materials in the construction of ship pipeline systems. Some people abroad have studied and given a comprehensive evaluation of alloy materials used in ship piping systems, including titanium alloys and traditional alloy materials. Through research and comparison, it is shown that the maximum service life of traditional alloy materials in the use process is basically maintained at about 10 years, and high frequency maintenance should be carried out during the use period, even if it needs to be replaced before reaching the specified age, which is mainly due to the corrosion phenomenon at the material interface caused by long-term use. However, the service life of titanium alloy materials can be the same as that of ships. That is to say, when building ships, the titanium alloy materials and components used can be used until ships are retired or scrapped. In addition, there is no need for high-frequency maintenance during the service period, only simple inspection and maintenance are required regularly, and the overall cost is not more expensive than that of ordinary alloys.

2. Measures to reduce the manufacturing cost of titanium and titanium alloy materials

At this stage, the price of sponge titanium products in China is about 60000 yuan/ton, which is the lowest price of titanium materials ever used, even lower than the cost price of sponge titanium production. The price of titanium materials is basically composed of several aspects, including the raw materials, vacuum melting and processing costs of titanium alloys. The production cost of titanium materials is about 100000 yuan, and the proportion of smelting and raw material processing is about 1:1. For titanium alloys sold at 150000 to 200000 yuan per ton, the proportion is about 1:1.5. Based on the above data, it can be concluded that reducing the manufacturing cost of titanium materials can be carried out from two aspects: first, reducing the price of raw materials for production, and second, reducing the cost of smelting process and material processing.
Due to the application advantages of titanium alloy materials, developing high-performance and low-cost titanium alloy materials has become a hot spot in the current industry. To reduce the cost of titanium materials, we can reduce the overall cost of titanium materials mainly from the price of raw materials, the production cost of alloy smelting, processing technology investment and process technology. By innovating titanium materials in raw material preparation, ingot preparation and other technologies, it is possible to reduce the production cost of titanium materials by 60%, and the lower cost will not affect the low performance of titanium materials. The titanium cost will be reduced by 6000 yuan per ton, and the processing cost will be reduced by 10%.

2.1 Low cost production technology of titanium sponge

Sponge titanium is the raw material for the production of titanium ingots and titanium materials. Its production process is to turn ilmenite into titanium tetrachloride, and then put it into a sealed stainless steel tank filled with argon to make them react with magnesium metal to obtain porous sponge titanium. This production process needs to consume a lot of energy.
In the 21st century, the production process and capacity of titanium sponge in China have been significantly improved. In 2021, China’s sponge titanium production capacity will be 176000 tons. Through continuous optimization and innovation of processing technology, the sponge titanium production has been realized in the whole process of modern technology. The electric energy consumption of the reduction distillation furnace has been significantly reduced and has reached international standards, which provides a basic guarantee for the subsequent low-cost production of titanium and titanium materials.
From the current research and development situation, the new technology of titanium dioxide direct electrolysis to obtain titanium materials has shown the advantages of comprehensively replacing the traditional titanium production methods, but it is still in the initial stage of research, and there is still a long way to go before it is formally used in industrial production.

2.2 Low cost titanium alloy ingot preparation technology

2.2.1 Replace expensive alloy elements with cheap metals

In view of the high cost of titanium alloy production, foreign countries have begun to study the technology of low-cost titanium materials, and have achieved remarkable results. In recent years, China has also begun to pay attention to the technology of low-cost manufacturing titanium materials, and China has developed an effective way to replace expensive alloy elements with cheap alloy elements in alloy design, thereby reducing the comprehensive cost of alloy manufacturing and expanding the application range of titanium alloys. Through many practices, it has been proved that the application of this method is highly feasible and has obvious effect on reducing the production cost. At present, the focus of cost reduction in China is to use cheap metal elements to replace traditional expensive metals. The comprehensive performance of titanium alloys made by this technology is subject to strength and processing performance. They are mainly used in civil areas such as automobiles and sports, but have not been effectively applied in high-end aviation.

2.2.2 Residue recycling technology

In the processing and production process of titanium materials, titanium materials will produce some residues in various processes. For these residues, many factories have disposed of them in the form of waste materials. These residues actually have practical use value. The following operations can turn waste into treasure and be reused. First, these residues can be cleaned, and then classified according to the characteristics of each residue. The block materials can be recycled by binding electrodes. Through recycling, the reuse rate of these materials can reach 100%.
At present, the recovery amount of titanium materials is less than 20% of titanium materials. Therefore, the production unit can recycle titanium resources by recycling titanium residues, which can greatly reduce the industrial manufacturing cost without affecting its application quality. Some domestic enterprises have begun to use the recycling technology to achieve the goal of reducing costs.
This method of secondary utilization of titanium residues has been widely promoted in the titanium industry manufacturing field, especially in some private enterprises. This method has a higher utilization rate, and has also accumulated a lot of experience. However, there are still many drawbacks and problems in the use of these technologies. The most typical problem is that this method of recycling residues does not have a very clear standard, which makes it difficult to ensure the quality of the recycled residues, and the utilization rate is relatively low.

2.2.3 New smelting method

In addition to replacing low-cost materials, scientific and reasonable reduction of industrial manufacturing processes is also an effective way to reduce manufacturing costs. At present, the methods used to produce large high-quality titanium alloy billets internationally include the application of new electron beam cooling bed furnace and plasma cooling bed furnace smelting technology.
The new smelting method can directly replace the traditional vacuum consumable arc furnace smelting, and simplify the process manufacturing process, thus shortening the manufacturing process, eliminating the traditional vacuum consumable arc furnace smelting processes such as oil press pressing electrode, vacuum welding, etc., and at the same time, it can also increase the recovery of residues to a certain extent. The popularization of cold bed furnace smelting technology not only reduces the production cost, but also improves the quality of titanium alloy materials. In particular, using a single cooling bed furnace technology to melt titanium alloy can directly melt and cast flat ingots, saving nearly 20% of the production cost.
At present, the number of furnaces suitable for smelting alloy is not directly related to the number of furnaces, but the working principle of two different furnaces. Compared with the electron beam cooling bed furnace, the plasma cooling bed furnace is easier to control the alloy elements in the smelting process, so the plasma cooling bed furnace is more suitable for alloy smelting.
In the production process of titanium alloy, both electron beam cooling bed furnace and plasma cooling bed furnace can be easily burned and cast into flat ingots, which can be directly billed. Blanking is an indispensable step for manufacturing titanium alloys. However, through the above technical methods, the forging bloom stage can be directly omitted, thus shortening the manufacturing process. With the development of refining technology, the price of some titanium materials and their ancillary products has plummeted. For example, with the development of hot rolling and cold rolling technology, titanium strip has been continuously and rapidly rolled, which shortens the production process of titanium alloy, reduces the energy consumption in the production process, and improves the product quality.
Rolling process is widely used in iron and steel enterprises because of its high efficiency and short manufacturing process. Titanium alloy enterprises can also achieve the effect of continuous production by upgrading production equipment, and on this basis, production costs can be reduced. However, the actual titanium alloy short process manufacturing process has not had enough experience in technology. Although the effect has improved a lot compared with the previous production, the role of this technology has not been fully played, so it needs to continue to explore and improve in the production process.

2.4 Near net forming technology

2.4.1 Additive manufacturing technology

This technology is based on the principle of prototype manufacturing. The powder or filament of raw materials are melted and stacked layer by layer by laser. This technology can directly prepare and shape the CAD model of the part into a metal part with high density and strong performance. It is a new manufacturing technology with reform significance, short cycle and low cost.
Additive manufacturing technology is a rapid manufacturing technology that has just emerged in recent years, and with its excellent manufacturing effect, it has a very broad prospect. This technology has been applied in international cutting-edge fields such as aerospace, especially in the manufacturing of some large and complex parts. With short manufacturing cycle, good effect and low cost, the cost consumption can be reduced by about 50%. Although these manufacturing technologies have many technical advantages, there are still many areas to be improved in technology and process, and some problems in manufacturing technology have not been solved, so there is still a lot of room for optimization of this technology.

2.4.2 EPS lost foam shell forging technology

Titanium and titanium alloy precision forging technology is an advanced metal casting production technology. Titanium and titanium alloy EPS lost foam shell casting technology can reduce the manufacturing cost of titanium alloy, simplify the manufacturing process and shorten the manufacturing cycle. This technology can not only save costs and reduce energy consumption in production, but also improve the quality and accuracy of products. EPS lost foam shell casting technology, as an efficient casting technology, is a new casting technology with absolute advantages in terms of process flow, production cost and even product quality, which can fully realize low-cost manufacturing. However, surface contamination will occur when alloy manufacturing is conducted by using this technology. This problem needs to be highly valued by relevant enterprises and solved as soon as possible.

2.4.3 Metal powder injection molding technology

Metal powder injection molding technology is a process technology combining injection molding technology and powder metallurgy. As a near net forming technology, metal powder injection molding technology can be used to manufacture high-quality, high-precision complex parts, and is one of the most advantageous forming technologies at present. The metal powder injection molding technology can be used to manufacture some parts with high precision requirements. At the same time, even if solid phase sintering occurs in the manufacturing process, the relative precision can reach more than 95%, and the performance is comparable to that of forged materials. At the same time, the parts supported by the metal powder injection molding technology can also meet the specified standards in terms of dimensional accuracy, and can support the final shape of the parts to the greatest extent. The most important thing is that the parts do not need to be processed and polished later, so as to ensure that the utilization rate of metal reaches 100%. The utilization rate of metal is the key to reduce the production cost of enterprises. By improving the utilization rate of metal, the amount of metal used can be reduced, and at the same time, the product quality can be optimized to ensure the economic benefits of enterprises.
As a new technology of powder metallurgy, metal powder injection molding technology is the most widely used in the automobile manufacturing industry, and has absolute advantages in manufacturing automobile parts and automobile mechanical components. It has more advantages than traditional manufacturing technology in terms of manufacturing process and cycle, and is far superior to traditional manufacturing technology in terms of manufacturing quality. This technology can also achieve optimization in cost control. By optimizing the production technology, shortening the production process and reducing the production cost, it is a new technology for making parts that is worthy of being vigorously promoted by relevant departments.

3. Conclusion

Titanium alloy materials are obviously superior to other alloy materials in terms of both scope of use and service life, and also lower than other alloy materials in terms of manufacturing cost. With the rapid increase in the production of titanium sponge materials and titanium alloy processing, abundant production capacity and price advantages are the important basis for expanding the use of titanium. Through the optimization of sponge titanium preparation and ingot preparation, and the application of efficient rolling and other technologies, the production cost of titanium alloy can be further reduced, and the comprehensive cost can be reduced by about 30%. While reducing the production cost, it can fully meet the actual needs of titanium materials. Therefore, on the basis of existing raw material production, processing and process manufacturing, the application of titanium and titanium alloys has already had sufficient conditions, so it is necessary to vigorously promote them.
Source: China Titanium Flanges Manufacturer: www.titaniuminfogroup.com

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