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Aircraft Demand Hikes Titanium Fastener Use

Aircraft Demand Hikes Titanium Fastener Use

Carpenter Technology Corp. is expanding capacity to produce aerospace fasteners as part of a repositioning to high-value metal alloy markets.

The $5 million investment will boost capacity for Dynamet titanium wire and bar in Clearwater, FL. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Carpenter Technology, Dynamet is a leading specialty producer for the aerospace fastener industry.

"This investment will include construction of a new building and installation of proprietary manufacturing facilities to produce close tolerance, high performance wire for manufacturing titanium aerospace fasteners," says William Kent, vice president of Dynamet. "The capacity increase will address our customers' increasing demand for titanium aerospace fastener wire, which is projected to escalate with the introduction of new airframes and the increase in wide-body aircraft production during the next decade."

One example of new airframe design is the Boeing Dreamliner 787, which will use eight times more titanium fasteners that the single-aisle Boeing 737.

Aircraft Demand Hikes Titanium Fastener Use
The Dreamliner is best known for its use of lightweight carbon composites in the fuselage and wing. But titanium is also a big player in the aircraft's design because of its high strength-to-weight ratio. According to data supplied by Boeing to Design News, titanium makes up 15 percent of the materials in the Dreamliner by volume.

Carpenter Technology, which was founded in 1889, has accelerated efforts in recent years to focus on specialty alloys, which represent only 2 percent of total industry volume, but more than 9 percent of total revenue. The average selling price of carbon steel is 28 cents per pound versus $1.28 per pound for stainless, $7.25 per pound for superalloys and $25 per pound for titanium.

Specialties grow
In recent years, even stainless markets have become commoditized. In 2004, stainless steel represented 48 percent of Carpenter Technology's total revenue, while specialty alloys were 40 percent. By last year, specialty alloys represented 53 percent of the company's market share, while stainless had dropped to 34 percent.

Another high-value platform for Carpenter technology is powder metals.

Late last year, Carpenter Technology announced plans to acquire a 40 percent interest in Sandvik Powdermet AB and Sandvik AB is acquiring a 40 percent interest in Carpenter Powder Products AB.

The joint venture will provide Carpenter with access to Sandvik Powdermet AB's market for near-net-shape powder products, and will ensure Sandvik's long-term supply of high quality powder.

According to a report from BCC Research, sales of powder metal components are growing 14 percent per year. Injection molding permits design of complex shapes not possible through traditional metal forming approaches.

High-growth markets targeted by Carpenter Technology are aerospace, energy and automotive.
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