Titanium Europe 2014: moving the industry forward

12 June 2014

By David Sear

Held for only the second time in Europe, the Titanium Europe 2014 show in Sorrento, Italy, already has the character of an established, must-attend industry event. There is a definite sense that this is where key players come together to reflect on the latest commercial news, evaluate technical insights and generally to discuss how the titanium industry as a whole can move forward.

To start with a little background: the Titanium Europe Conference & Exhibition is organised by the International Titanium Association (ITA), a membership based international trade association whose main mission “is to connect people interested in using titanium with specialists from across the globe. who may offer sales and technical assistance”.

As part and parcel of that aim, the ITA has been organising what it calls its ‘Fall Shows’ in the USA since the early eighties. The event ‘travels’ from city to city, and easily attracts 1200 attendees.

To complement this level of activity in the USA, the ITA recently decided to launch a ‘Spring Show’ in Europe. The format is similar, so comprising a conference with technical reports and position papers as well as an informal expo featuring small, standardised booths. This means the event can be accommodated in hotel venues, making it simpler to organise, easier to attend and straightforward for companies wishing to exhibit.

The inaugural event was held in 2013 in Hamburg, Germany, following which the show has relocated to Sorrento, Italy, for its 2014 outing. The next event will be held in the UK, after which it is understood that France will be the host country.

Well attended
In terms of figures, the show organisers report that 431 people attended Titanium Europe 2014, listing in to 39 presentations and talking to 53 exhibitors. Immediately before the show attendees also had the opportunity to attend a workshop on the fundamentals of titanium, whilst an excursion to the nearby historic site of Pompeii had been thoughtfully organised for the final afternoon.

The presentations were scheduled over a day and a half, and were all well attended. They were grouped into logical sessions, focussing on topics such a world industry demand trends, additive manufacturing, titanium aluminides, aerospace, medical, fabrication, etc.

The keynote speaker, former US Navy Officer Brain Binnie, captivated the audience whilst discussing his work as a test pilot for SpaceShipOne – the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites.

In the foyer adjacent to the auditorium participants could see a scala of exhibiting companies, all with a direct link to titanium. For example, there were companies involved in mining and melting, as well as titanium stockists and distributors, and even equipment suppliers for machining and fabricating.

Whilst it is sadly impossible to report on everything that was said during the presentations, gleaned at the expo booths or discussed during the lunch breaks, it is hoped that the limited selection of genuine quotes (see box below) will hopefully give a flavour of the show.

If you want to see many more photos of people at Titanium Europe and read their quotes, why not check out our FaceBook report?

Finally, the next Titanium Europe event will be held in Birmingham, UK, from 11-13 May 2015. For info: http://www.titanium.org.

BOX: Real experts, real quotes

The following is just a very small selection of quotes recorded from presenters, exhibitors and visitors during Titanium Europe 2014. Hopefully they will indicate some of the many discussions that were taking place....

• “The narrow body planes are driving total numbers but it is the wide body craft that use significantly more titanium.”

• “Titanium is an expensive material so there has to be a good business case for its use. However, in some specific applications it remains our clear material of choice.”

• “The titanium industry typically has a seven year cycle, with five years of famine followed by two years of good times. Let us work together to break out of this unhappy situation.”

• “Titanium Europe is a good place to meet customers and supply chain vendors."

• “Companies seeking to purchase cutting equipment for titanium would do well to buy units with stronger gearboxes and saw frames.”

• “We foresee substantial growth in air traffic, and hence in the need for titanium. Collaborative activity is therefore essential to support the aviation industry to the benefit of us all.”

• “In the recycling business, it can be important to use good quality scrap material, especially if the titanium is intended for vacuum melting.”

• “Large desalination plants are very interesting for suppliers as they can consume 25 times more titanium as say a nuclear power plant and even 100 times as much as a conventional power plant.”

• “It may be the sixth most abundant element, but titanium is hard to extract and therefore comes with a price tag.”

• “Titanium components found in jet engines include cases, discs, fasteners, blades, etc.”

• “Titanium demand for military and defence use – whilst admittedly smaller than civil demand – is still very interesting to suppliers.”

• “I believe there will be a big pick-up on additive manufacturing – meaning the use of 3D printers for titanium aircraft parts”

• “The industry is supplying titanium heat exchanger tubes, for use in power, desalination and process industries.”

• “Titanium has competition from alternative materials – such as copper – but also alternative technologies – such as air-coolers.”