Last July, officials in Plattsburgh announced that Norway-based Norsk Titanium would base its U.S. manufacturing plant in the northern New York city. The company is the world’s only qualified manufacturer of structural titanium 3D aerospace parts. This week, Norsk announced that it has secured its first major contract with Boeing.
Norsk Titanium says it created a new method of producing aerospace grade components by melting titanium wire in an inert argon atmosphere, resulting in a 35 to 75 percent less expensive process with less waste and energy use.
Boeing will be the first commercial airline in the world to use components produced from Norsk Titanium’s Rapid Plasma Deposition process. Norsk Vice President of Marketing Chip Yates says this fulfills the vision of the company’s founders. “The idea that you could really print a part that could be used in a structural application in something as important as an airplane has really been the dream of a lot of people for a lot of years. And we had to have somebody like a Boeing to really be the driving force behind bringing this to a commercial state. And with Boeing just having that forward vision and realized I think the impacts that we could potentially make, especially on the Dreamliner because there’s so much carbon fiber that requires titanium. And so that partnership was crucial and developing it sort of behind the scenes for the past year.”
Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas says what’s unexpected and exciting about the Boeing contract with Norsk is how quickly it came to fruition. “It happened remarkably quickly which just shows the high degree of confidence that Boeing had once they took a look at this technology to quickly come to a conclusion: we can save a lot of money, we can increase productivity, this is going to work.”
New York state approved a $125 million investment in the Norsk Titanium factory in last year’s budget. SUNY Polytechnic ordered 20 Rapid Plasma Deposition machines and the state released an additional $4 million in planning funds for the manufacturing facility, which is expected to be completed at the end of the year.
The initial Boeing parts were made in Norway and Yates says the contract has accelerated operational plans for Plattsburgh. He says two buildings have been leased near the building under construction, creating a Norsk manufacturing campus. “The first parts for Boeing obviously did come from Norway as we just received the first machine in Plattsburgh recently. But that’s up and running and commissioned and later this year in 2017 we’ll transition production from Norway to Plattsburgh specifically for the Boeing job and then other jobs that we’ll be announcing in the future. But right now in Norway we have three machines whereas in Plattsburgh we only have one. But later this year in Plattsburgh we’re going to be excited to have something like nine machines up and running versus Norway’s three machines that have been running. So you can see a clear production transition process happening here.”
Douglas observes that the Boeing contract has created pressure on the new company to get things operating as soon as possible to not only fill the Boeing order but meet enhanced interest from prospective customers. “Once a company like Boeing says yeah we’re bought into this technology, we’re placing an order, there’s going to be a stream of folks coming thru Plattsburgh looking at these machines, looking to understand and check out the technology as well. So it accelerates everything. There’ll be more hiring sooner, actual production sooner than was anticipated perhaps a year ago. And that’s all good news.”
Financial details of the contract with Boeing were not disclosed.
Norsk Titanium is investing $1 billion in the new manufacturing plant and training facility in Plattsburgh and expects to eventually create more than 400 jobs.