RTI International Metals has started producing a range of commercial aerospace titanium products at its new forging, grinding, and hot-rolling operation in Martinsville, VA. The $135-million plant has been in development for several years, and has been conducting commercial tests on its titanium products for the past 10 months, to meet qualification requirements for Airbus SAS.

Now in commercial operation, the new will forge up to 14 million pounds of titanium billets annually.

Pittsburgh-based RTI International Metals produces titanium and titanium fabricated and mill products used in commercial aerospace, defense, propulsion, medical device, energy, industrial and chemical markets.

According to Daniel Breda, the forging plant builder that was contracted by RTI in 2009, the project involved expanding an existing building and constructing two new buildings.  The first structure houses a Danieli Breda 50-MN forging press, ingot heating furnaces, manipulators, and related equipment. The forging press is a four-column, push-down operation designed for the fast cycles necessary to forge titanium — 160 mm/sec. It has a maximum upsetting force of 50 MN (5,600 tons) and a forging speed of 160 mm/sec.

The press has a vertical stroke is 2,070 mm, with vertical daylight of 4,300 mm.

Danieli Breda also supplied a press control system that allows for fully automatic, semi-automatic, and manual operation.

The second building houses a complete bar and slab grinding system developed by an affiliated company, Danieli Centro Maskin. This plant removes surface and edge defects from titanium bars and mini slabs at temperatures up to 500°C, prior to downstream processing.

“The Martinsville plant is a key new addition to RTI’s ability to meet the expanding titanium needs of Airbus,” according to Dawne Hickton, vice chairwoman, president, and CEO of RTI. The company is the largest North American titanium supplier to Airbus and its parent EADS. The company is in the midst of a $1.1-bilion supply agreement with Airbus that continues through 2020.

“EADS, Airbus and RTI’s long-term partnership was expanded with the construction of the Martinsville facility,” stated Eric Zanin, material procurement senior vice president for EADS and Airbus. “This new plant offers us greater material support due to RTI’s increased capacity to produce titanium raw material not only for our A350 XWB aircraft, but to an extended number of EADS and Airbus supply chain partners.”