Carver Pump partners with IperionX to produce AM parts for the US Navy
The US currently has no domestic capacity to traditionally manufacture the large titanium pump castings, and is therefore turning to AM as the solution
IperionX has partnered with Carver Pump to use IperionX’s patented and award-winning titanium technologies to additively manufacture titanium pump components for the US Navy. Carver will design the titanium pump components, guide IperionX’s prototyping, and lead the qualification of these titanium pump components for the US Navy.
Carver is the leading American designer and manufacturer of high-performance centrifugal pumps that have been used in every major US Navy shipbuilding program for the past 60 years. The US Navy prizes titanium pumps for their exceptional corrosion resistance, and they are used across a wide range of naval applications including fire suppression, seawater cooling, main propulsion seawater, bilge, and desalination.
The US has no domestic capacity to manufacture the large titanium castings required for high-performance centrifugal pumps, and this has led to long lead times for new pump components sourced from a foreign-controlled supply chain that exploits high-cost and carbon-intensive titanium metal.
IperionX’s lower cost, lower carbon, US-sourced titanium powders can be used to additively manufacture these specialized titanium pump components – providing the US Navy with the capability to significantly reduce lead times for critical parts, increase equipment availability, and sustainably re-shore a critical US titanium metal supply chain.
The US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has developed additive manufacturing processes for over 500 approved parts used in US ships and submarines. The Governor of Virginia and the US Navy are accelerating efforts to scale additive manufacturing – having recently opened the ‘Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence’ in Danville, VA, located just 25 miles from the site of IperionX’s new Titanium Demonstration Facility in South Boston, VA.
“In just four months, we’ve seen dynamic progress from IperionX. As they continue to develop synergies with Carver Pump and the US Navy using 100% recycled titanium scrap as feedstock which will soon be produced in Halifax County, we look forward to seeing IperionX’s continued growth and success. This puts Virginia on the map for providing a critical material that is essential for our advanced industries including those exhibited just down the road at the US Navy’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence,” said Glenn Youngkin, Governor of Virginia.
High-performance pumps require high-performance materials
Carver has been providing high-performance centrifugal pumps to the US Navy since World War II. Carver pumps are installed on all current Navy shipbuilding programs, including Ford Carriers, Zumwalt Destroyers, Aegis Destroyers, Littoral Combat Ships, America Big Deck Amphibious Assault Ships, San Antonio Amphibious Transport Docks, and Virginia Submarines.
High-performance titanium pump components are mostly produced via titanium casting – a high-cost manufacturing method that can present significant problems due to titanium’s high melting point (1,670 °C) and high reactivity with oxygen. Therefore, to avoid unwanted reactivity, the specialized vacuum melting of titanium – and then pouring into specially designed ceramic molds – is required.
The US no longer has the domestic capacity to produce large high-performance titanium castings – with the key foreign suppliers now based in China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Norway. China and Russia are the only countries that have fully integrated primary titanium metal production and large titanium casting capabilities, which places them in a superior competitive position. The United Kingdom and Norway are fully reliant on importing their primary titanium metal feedstock for casting production from foreign sources that use the high-cost and carbon-intensive Kroll titanium production process.
The US has limited domestic production capacity for primary titanium metal (titanium sponge) and is mostly import reliant after Timet’s ‘Kroll’ titanium plant in Nevada closed in 2020. The global titanium supply chain is highly concentrated and dominated by China and Russia who now control over 70% of global metal production capacity. Given the lack of domestic titanium production capacity, and that the US no longer maintains titanium sponge in the National Defense Stockpile, downstream titanium producers, including producers of goods such as ingot, billet, sheet, coil, and tube, are almost entirely dependent on foreign sources of titanium.
IperionX’s patented technologies offer a pathway to lower cost, lower carbon, US-manufactured titanium components across a range of important industries including defense, aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics. These patented titanium technologies can upcycle low-grade, high-oxygen, out-of-specification titanium scrap metal to produce titanium metal that meets or exceeds industry standards.
IperionX is currently producing high-quality titanium metal powders from 100% recycled titanium feedstocks for customer qualification at its titanium production pilot facility in Utah. This titanium production facility has achieved processing yields approaching 100% from low-grade scrap without the need for blending with high-grade primary titanium metal.
IperionX re-shores a critical titanium supply chain
IperionX has successfully engaged with the US Navy to detail the company’s plans to sustainably re-shore the US titanium supply chain that aims to reduce critical titanium component lead times, lower costs, and reduce carbon emissions.
These discussions involved senior leadership in the US Navy’s NAVSEA, including the Office of the Chief Engineer for Ship Design, Integration and Naval Engineering, the Shipbuilding Industrial Base Task Force, and the Program Executive Office – Strategic Submarines. IperionX has also been in discussions with the US Defense Logistics Agency Strategic Materials agency on the potential for recycling titanium scrap inventory for use across the Defense Industrial Base. In addition to this, IperionX is collaborating with Naval Air Systems Command to produce flight critical 3D printed titanium components for Navy aircraft. These discussions build upon IperionX successfully winning the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s titanium recycling Grand Challenge and highlights the importance of sustainably re-shoring a US titanium supply chain for domestic and allied defense industries.
The US Navy’s NAVSEA has publicly stated targets to develop technical standards for additive manufactured components to increase operational readiness. These aim to manufacture obsolete and long-lead time components, and also enhance defense capabilities by manufacturing unique component designs not otherwise possible. Importantly, the current lead time for large, specialized titanium castings is approximately 1-2 years, compared to just 1-3 months when manufactured with titanium powders via additive manufacturing. IperionX’s patented technologies can recycle end-of-life titanium components into high-quality titanium metal that can then be manufactured into new mission-critical titanium parts in short timeframes.
“We are delighted to be working with IperionX to help introduce domestically sourced, 100% recycled titanium into the US Navy’s supply chain. When coupled with benefits of additive manufacturing, the partnership provides a significant potential to benefit to Navy operations through the rapid production of complex, operation-critical titanium parts, providing a potential reduction in lead times and increasing equipment availability. We see this partnership as the first step in a larger relationship focused on both Navy surface ships as well as new parts for other marine applications,” said Andrew Carver, CEO of Carver.
“Our partnership with Carver is another important milestone for the rapid commercialization of IperionX’s breakthrough titanium technologies. These patented technologies can efficiently recycle domestic titanium scrap metal at lower cost than existing processes, and this high-quality titanium metal can be used for a range of manufacturing technologies, including additive manufacturing. We look forward to working closely with Carver to rapidly prototype and deploy titanium components for a wide range of centrifugal pump applications in US Navy platforms,” said Anastasios Arima, CEO of IperionX.