WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - Norway’s Norsk Titanium AS said on Sunday that it had named Warren Boley, a former executive with Aerojet Rocketdyne, to head the company as it moves to establish the world’s first industrial-scale 3D printing facility in the United States.
Boley, who also worked for United Technologies Corp, told Reuters the site of the 200,000-square-foot plant would be announced in coming weeks by an unnamed U.S. state, which is funding the facility as part of public-private partnership.
The facility will be government-owned but operated by Norsk Titanium, or NTi. The company has developed technology that uses titanium wire to make components at a cost up to 70 percent less than current technologies, in about 10 percent of the time, while wasting less titanium.
Boley said the project involved hundreds of millions of dollars of investment over the past seven to eight years. Its goal is to build large-scale components for commercial aircraft. He said launch orders were expected by the first quarter of 2016.
He said the company was also talking with Lockheed Martin Corp about building components for its F-35 fighter jet. The vice chairman of NTi’s board is Chris Kubasik, a former Lockheed executive and the chief executive of New York-based Seabury Advisory Group, which is also aiding NTi.
“We’re going to make history,” Boley said. “This is part of the next industrial revolution.”
Proponents of 3D printing or additive manufacturing say it can help aircraft manufacturers cut the cost of parts made from titanium, which costs seven times more than aluminum.
The new technology also speeds production, Boley said, noting that it can take up to 75 weeks to get 100 pounds of titanium, while the NTi printer can produce a part in five hours, using a fraction of the titanium.
Boley said the new NTi facility would open with several dozen large-scale 3D printers, but that number would grow in coming years.
The company said it expects the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to certify its “direct metal deposition” process by the end of this year, with each specific part to be approved by the individual aircraft manufacturer.
Boley quit Aerojet Rocketdyne in February amid differences about the company’s future with his boss at the time, Scott Seymour. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal,; editing by Larry King)