Waikato University’s titanium alloy research boosted by new FRST funding

14 July 2010

Deliang Zhang

Titanium research: Waikato University's Professor Deliang Zhang.

Ground-breaking research into the consolidation of titanium alloy powders into high value-added products at the University of Waikato has been given a boost in the latest Foundation for Research, Science and Technology investment round.

The titanium research programme, led by Professor Deliang Zhang, will receive $1.2 million over two years to improve the processes for consolidating titanium alloy powders in order to enhance the capability and international competitiveness of the New Zealand titanium metal industry sector.

The FRST funding for improving production processes is expected to lead to titanium product exports worth between $100 million and $200 million a year by 2019.

Professor Zhang said the funding would help the development of New Zealand’s fledgling titanium industry.

“This funding comes on top of our existing funding, and will provide a significant boost to titanium powder metallurgy research at the University of Waikato. It will support titanium powder consolidation, powder metallurgy and powder coating research here at Waikato and by our subcontractors, and take our research closer to commercialisation.

“It is quite a sizeable resource given to us by the nation, and it comes with a big responsibility.” 

Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal, and is used for components and structural elements 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 government has invested nearly $8 million in the titanium industry, and earlier this month opened a flagship facility for the Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA) in Tauranga, aimed at testing new alloy materials and developing a national research and development strategy for titanium.

TiDA sprang from the work of Titanox Development Ltd, which was established in 1997 to develop market-ready titanium alloy products based on the work led by Professor Zhang.

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