Titanium a ground floor chance for NZ business

Titanium, and titanium alloy powders, are a relatively new product and a means for New Zealand companies to get in on the ground floor of a new industry according to Ian Macrae.

The Tauranga businessman, director of Ti powder maker Titanox and chairman of the Titanium Industry Development Association’s (TiDA) research and development centre at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s Windemere campus, says there’s the potential to grow a billion dollar Ti industry in 10 years.

Macrae has been involved in Titanium research for the past 12 years from an initial 12 week project, much of the R&D centred on Waikato University. To date the government has stumped up about $8m in Ti research.

The intellectual property that Titanox has under its wing is both the knowledge of how to break the very strong bond that oxygen has with Titanium in TiO2 (both a paint pigment and sunscreen in its own right), as well as the ability to make a range of Ti alloys in a variety of powder sizes. Titanox uses a solid state process instead of gas atomisation, which has been the main way the powder has been created up until recently.

“The idea is to grow demand,” says Macrae. “There’s been enough initial interest to start off TiDA, and it provides an opportunity for learning. The ability that people have to do rapid prototypes from drawings is brilliant.”

TiDA’s installation of a laser sintering machine is significant, it being only the 10th machine in the world capable of handling titanium powders he says.

“In 10 years time we have the potential to grow quite a big industry if enough people get into it and it catches on,” Macrae says. “Titanium’s a high value product; here goes a way for companies to see if they can be part of it.”


About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
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4 Responses to Titanium a ground floor chance for NZ business

  1. Dougles says:

    sticknz.net – da mejor. Guardar va!


  2. sticknz says:

    I agree Dougles, it is an industry to keep an eye on.


  3. Tim Newman says:

    Hi Peter, why do you think the Titanium Industry is worth keeping an eye on?

    • sticknz says:

      Because, (and it is probably something I should revisit), there’s a titanium powder producing process that could be commercialised, if we could justify using that much titanium.

      But, you remind me that since TIDA was set up, I haven’t heard too much about it.


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