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Solar Atmospheres Inc.
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White Paper Examines Vacuum Heat Treating of Titanium Alloys for Commercial Airframes
KISSIMMEE, Fla.--Emerging applications for titanium in the commercial and military aerospace markets were front and center at the International Titanium Association's 26th annual conference and exhibition, held last October in Kissimmee, Florida. Speakers on 22 panels addressed a wide variety of topics, ranging from global demand to supply chain management challenges and the latest developments in materials, processing, and manufacturing.
One of the speakers in the materials and processing track was Robert Hill Jr., president of Solar Atmospheres of Western PA, a unit of Solar Atmospheres Inc., of Souderton, Pennsylvania. In his talk, entitled, "Vacuum Heat Treating Titanium Alloys for Commercial Airframes," Hill presented his views on what he considers the most revolutionary leaps in the history of aerospace manufacturing. A good example is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which uses titanium in 15 percent of its airframe. By designing the 787 airframe with 50 percent of its weight as composites, he said, Boeing has necessitated the use of more titanium (for compatibility) and newer, near-beta alloys for higher-strength components. Hill reviewed the main areas in which the largest concentrations of titanium and its various alloys are used, including landing gear and fittings (using Ti 5553); as well as floor structures, extrusions, and nacelles--all three of which specify Ti 6-4. Other major structural components within the wing and tail of the aircraft also make use of titanium, he said.
For more than a decade, Hill has specialized in the development of large vacuum furnace technology and titanium processing capabilities for Solar Atmospheres. In 2009, he received the Titanium Achievement Award from the International Titanium Association, which recognized him as a leader and pioneer in developing vacuum-thermal processing solutions for the aerospace industry.
Solar Atmospheres (www.solaratm.com) is a privately owned commercial heat treating and brazing company that operates three heat treating plants in the U.S.--two in Pennsylvania and one in California. Also included in the Solar family of companies is Solar Manufacturing Inc., a vacuum furnace manufacturer, and Magnetic Specialty, a manufacturer of heat treating furnace power supplies and specialty transformers for general industry.
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