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Light Metals Research

Research collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology supported Titanium Centre of Competence

One of the main research thrusts at the Centre for Materials Engineering at UCT is aimed at addressing the need to develop competitive niche areas in the production and application of light metal alloy products for the transport, medical and chemical industries. This involvement is driven by the strategy of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to promote industry development in light metals, and most specifically, within the area of titanium metal alloy process and product development. 

The Titanium Centre of Competence (TiCoC), which is hosted by the CSIR, has been established by the DST and the broad aim of the TiCoC is to promote a vibrant titanium industry in South Africa that will capitalise on the mineral and energy resources in South Africa, and lead to significant value-added product development and manufacture for the international market. The Centre for Materials Engineering at UCT provides crucial support to the TiCoC in which our role focuses on the optimisation of titanium alloy properties through the process of tailoring the metal’s composition and microstructure.

Key to the development of the latter is the thermo-mechanical processing of the metal in such a way that the bulk shape and internal microstructure (or nano-structure in some cases) are modified to meet the end-user requirements. Consequently, the study of the relationships between thermo-mechanical process and metal structure evolution is important. Furthermore, we have also focused on powder metallurgy process routes, and specifically direct powder rolling, to take advantage of potentially cheaper supply of titanium metal via direct reduction to produce powder.