Titanium Technologies New Zealand (TiTeNZ), the winner of the AJ Park Commercialisation Collaboration Award, is a collaboration between the University of Waikato, Callaghan Innovation, GNS Science, Auckland University, the Titanium Industry Development Association (TIDA) and a number of industry partners. TiTeNZ was established with the goal of developing a world-class platform in titanium powder metallurgy that would in turn become a multi-company, multi-sector manufacturing base for advanced technology products and export-focused technology enterprises.
Group Manager of Callaghan Innovation, Ian Brown, and Chair of the Titanium Advisory Panel, Jon Mayson, explain the goals of TiTeNZ and why it offers exciting opportunities for New Zealand companies.
Point of interest
Within 2 years, the collaboration has already resulted in the commercialisation of several new technologies. These include:
- design through to export of a firearm suppressor patented and manufactured by TiDA in partnership with Oceania Defence Ltd, using 3D printing techniques
- export sales of a new titanium alloy crew safety knife manufactured in collaboration between TiDA, Page Macrae and Victory Knives, for use by the Team New Zealand America’s Cup syndicate
- successful demonstration of a proof of concept ion beam coating process for cleaning and pre-treatment of metal surfaces by GNS Science. The technology is now integrated within the daily operation of Page Macrae Engineering, enabling improved quality, appearance and performance of titanium alloy coatings.
The exciting part is that what we’re doing mainly is developing ways to use titanium powder materials, and that’s the big difference. Every time you buy a piece of titanium, you have to machine it down to shape – and that’s the expensive part – and particularly they were finding in some of the aircraft opportunities that they were literally throwing away 90% of the material in order to machine it down to a particular shape. So that’s where the attraction of powder shaping and powder forming comes in because you can design technologies to make near net-shape products.
Developing methods to utilise powders of micron size and purity that have not been able to be produced anywhere else in the world.
So part of the package here that we have is five separate research agencies working with way more than 20 New Zealand companies to make this happen.
All those research organisations have a direct commercial focus and link so they are collaborating with commercial firms who are part of the research and development and have very clear outcomes that they require with respect to a commercial product. Key to collaboration, which is what this is all about, is having clarity of purpose across the science side, across the commercial side, across the funding side.
Lightweight, high-strength, high-durability materials have got real applications worldwide – not just New Zealand – but worldwide in the aerospace industry, in anything to do with the marine industry because of the high durability and certainly in the biomedical field, so those are big growth opportunities for New Zealand players to get into. Now we see real opportunities in terms of the human health value of titanium implant technologies, and when you see some of the individual cases where you’ve made a real difference to people or the technology you’ve been working on has made a real difference to people, that’s really satisfying.
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013