Spirit AeroSystems [NYSE: SPR] today announced it is transitioning recent research breakthroughs from the laboratory to its factory. The Joule Form™ process, which Spirit developed, is a new proprietary method for forming titanium raw material at elevated temperatures in the fabrication of aerospace components. This method provides the company a competitive advantage in the use of titanium, a highly desirable material thanks to its combination of strength and light weight.
"We are the first in the aerospace industry to use this high-tech solution. The implementation of the Joule FormTM process allows for more advanced production of titanium parts, such as those on Spirit's propulsion, fuselage and wing products," said Spirit AeroSystems Senior Vice President and Chief Technology and Quality Officer John Pilla. "This approach offers a host of benefits that ultimately reduce costs and drive greater efficiencies."
The Joule FormTM process allows Spirit to form parts out of titanium plates rather than relying on machining large blocks of titanium. This significantly reduces waste and decreases the amount of machining, further enhancing Spirit's competitiveness. The process was internally developed as part of one of Spirit's key research focus areas, the Lean Metallic Structures Distinctive Capability.
"This emerging manufacturing improvement can replace more expensive techniques," said Kevin Matthies, Spirit's senior vice president of Global Fabrication. "We want to build high-quality products in a cost-effective way. This is a great example of improving a process to better serve our customers."
Joule Form™ technology can be used on aircraft components that are machined from plates or forgings, specifically on materials that are hard to machine and expensive to procure (like titanium and steel alloys). This could significantly increase the buy-to-fly ratio for detail parts.