Enhance current plasma arc cold hearth process technology to melt and cast titanium into high-quality rectangular slabs suitable to roll directly into armor plate. This methodology will result in cost savings of up to 30 percent over conventional processes. With these reduced costs, titanium will be used in significant quantities in military vehicles and armament to reduce their weight and enhance their deployment and performance.
To accomplish the plasma arc titanium-slab-casting objectives, four 13" x 34" x 50" titanium slabs were melted with different combinations of torch power, standoff, patterns and slab-casting rate. Casting of the titanium slabs was done sequentially using modeling refinements developed by CTC as a guide to improving surface quality. All slabs were cast successfully. In fact our early success enabled the first two slabs to be rolled into 1" armor plate for use in a Demonstration Combat Vehicle (DCV) and also 5-mm plate for use in the Light Weight 155mm Howitzer, both ahead of schedule. A fifth slab will be cast to 125" in length with the same cross section as the first four slabs. All remaining slabs will be rolled into a series of thicknesses for use in a variety of military armament in which weight is a key factor. A series of experiments is being conducted to establish the ballistics and the envelope of performance of the plasma arc melted material.
The advanced plasma arc melting titanium technology results in significant cost savings compared to current production processes. These cost savings will translate into increased usage of titanium in military vehicles significantly decreasing their weight thus increasing their performance and ease of deployment.
This plasma arc technology is currently being transferred to the titanium industry through its development with RMI Titanium, one of the largest plasma arc producers of titanium in the U.S. First uses of this plasma arc single melt plate will be its incorporation in a DCV and the 155mm Light Weight Howitzer.