Vacuum Heat Treating Titanium to Improve Aerospace Buy-To-Fly Ratios

November 11, 2013


  • 5:45 Social & Networking
  • 6:30 Dinner & Awards Presentation
  • 7:30 Presentation

A strong common driver throughout the aerospace community is the desire for weight reduction. Depending upon the aviation sector, weight reduction remains a major metric today. On the commercial side the result of weight loss is equivalent to a huge savings of fuel consumption. From a military aspect reducing weight enhances the product performance of an aircraft. This is why the development of the composite/ titanium airframe is so important to the aviation engineer today. For aerospace heat treaters a common mantra that is bantered about daily is how to improve the buy-to-fly ratios. This number is simply the ratio of material weight to procure a component to the finished weight of that part going into the airplane. The cost of titanium, in particular, has prompted many suppliers to examine their ratios and open new discussions with heat treaters regarding near net shapes. This talk will center on the development of major structural titanium forgings located in the fuselage of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Early in development of these forgings it was not unusual to see artificially high supplier BTF ratios allowing for post heat treatment contamination and distortion. Since then, improvements in the buy-to-fly ratios have been realized. Near net shapes on expensive titanium forgings could only have been achieved through new alloy development, specialized fixturing, exact pyrometric controls, and extremely deep vacuum levels.


Robert Hill – Biography

Robert Hill FASM– President, Solar Atmospheres of Western PA has over 30 years of metallurgical experience involving a wide range of heat treating methodologies. During the past thirteen years, Bob has specialized in the development of large vacuum furnace technology and vacuum heat treating of titanium processing capabilities for Solar Atmospheres. In 2000, Bob took on the responsibility of starting Solar Atmospheres’ second plant located in Hermitage, PA –Solar Atmospheres of Western Pennsylvania.  At this location there are fourteen vacuum furnaces, including the world’s largest vacuum furnace, which is 36 feet long with a weight capacity of 150,000lbs. This 60,000 square foot facility primarily services the titanium industries which provide titanium to the aerospace, medical, and power generation arenas throughout the world. He has published numerous articles on vacuum technologies and vacuum heat treating applications. Bob has publicly presented these papers at National ASM Heat Treating Conferences, SME events, and at various local chapters throughout the country. Bob has been a long time member of ASM since 1980. In 2000-2001, Bob served as the Chairman of the Philadelphia Liberty Bell Chapter of ASM. Additionally, he co-chaired the 2003 and 2005 ASM Heat Treating Society Conference and Exposition. In 2009, Bob was bestowed the ITA (International Titanium Association) Titanium Achievement Award on behalf of his company Solar Atmospheres of Western PA. In 2010, he was appointed to the ASM Board of Trustee’s. As an ASM Trustee, Bob visited a variety of ASM Chapters though out North America. After serving on the MTI (Metal Treating Institute) Board of Directors for 6 years, Bob became the President of the MTI in October of 2014. Bob was recently inducted into ASM’s prestigious 2014 Class of Fellows in Montreal Canada. Bob received a B.S. from Millersville University and a degree in Metallurgy from Spring Garden College.

Meeting Location:

Crowne Plaza Hotel
5300 Rockside Road, Independence, OH


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