Participants at a workshop exploring the use of titanium structure for ships found that it is not only possible to construct a ship hull from titanium, it could be cost effective.
An Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded project will produce a full-size ship hull section made entirely with marine grade titanium using a welding innovation that could help bring titanium into future Navy ship construction, officials announced April 3.
The contractor team building this section recently completed the industry's longest friction-stir titanium alloy welds and aims to complete the ship hull section this summer. Friction-stir welds more than 17 feet long joined the titanium alloy plates for the section's deck.
"This fast, effective friction-stir weld technique is now an affordable manufacturing process that takes advantage of titanium's properties," said Kelly Cooper, the program officer managing the project for ONR's Sea Warfare and Weapons Department.
Titanium metal and its alloys are desirable materials for ship hulls and other structures because of their high strength, light weight and corrosion-resistance.
If constructed in titanium, Navy ships would have lighter weight for the same size-allowing for a bigger payload-and virtually no corrosion. But because titanium costs up to nine times more than steel and is technically difficult and expensive to manufacture into marine vessel hulls, it has been avoided by the shipbuilding industry. But perhaps not for much longer.
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