Minister opens new titanium facility in Tauranga

7 July 2010

wayne mapp

New facility: Research Science and Technology Minister Dr Wayne Mapp opened the titanium facility in Tauranga recently.

A facility dedicated to boosting New Zealand’s titanium industry has opened in Tauranga.

Research, Science and Technology Minister Dr Wayne Mapp opened the government-backed Titanium Industry Development Association facility on July 2.

TiDA was formed about 18 months ago to help firms develop new titanium products for the international market using powder metallurgy consolidation methods. It sprung from the work of Titanox Development Ltd, which was established in 1997 to develop market-ready products based on the work led by Waikato University’s Professor Deliang Zhang.

TiDA helps co-ordinate the titanium industry’s activities and is funded by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, the Tertiary Education Commission and private enterprise.

The Applied Powder Metallurgy Centre is based at the Windermere Campus in Tauranga which is shared by the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the University of Waikato. The partnership between the two organisations means they are continually working together to increase tertiary education opportunities for the region.

Dr Mapp told the more than 100 guests at the opening that the new Applied Powder Metallurgy Centre will be the innovative hub of New Zealand’s emerging titanium industry.

“It is a key piece of infrastructure for the titanium industry. It will significantly boost New Zealand’s advantage in the industry, especially in titanium powder technology. The titanium applications industry could be worth $700 million each year to New Zealand by 2020.”

Titanium is sought after as it has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal. It’s used for components in the aerospace, medical and automotive industries and in the latest laptops and cellphones. Products made using titanium alloy powders are even stronger and can withstand higher temperatures.

The TiDA facility will test alloy materials for businesses, focus on skills training, and implement and run a national research and development strategy for titanium among other tasks.

“The opening of this centre is an excellent example of the innovative ecosystem at work. The industry, the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the University of Waikato have pooled their resources to make this happen. It is exactly the sort of innovative project that will drive our economic growth,” Dr Mapp said.

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