Primary Titanium Production
Hearth melting has certainly proven to be a complimentary process to VAR (Vacuum Arc Remelt) melting. It is also proving to be an increasingly viable substitute process. Its primary advantages over VAR melting to date are its ability to refine titanium (remove inclusions), utilize a wide range of feed stock, service single melt applications with homogeneous material, cast a wide range of shapes, and allow better visual monitoring of the melt process. Though much has been learned through the evolution of first generation hearth concepts, some of the real savings to be gained in titanium hearth melting remain generally unrealized.
Second generation titanium production technologies and manufacturing processes must address four other very important areas in order to lower the price of suitable material without sacrificing quality. First and most important, second generation hearth melting technologies must drive up material yields dramatically. All other considerations are secondary. Secondly, future hearth systems must be designed to be more productive. If the holy grail of the commercial side of the business is the auto industry, the holy grail of the hot metal side of the manufacturing process is high yield, high productivity, near net shape, single melt technology. Thirdly, systems must be flexible, and fourthly, systems must operate at a higher average utilization than current titanium company processing lines.
Ajax TOCCO is developing such solutions.