Alcoa Titanium & Engineered Products plans to expand production at its Martinsville, VA, titanium forging operation, with an $8.59-million investment that will include a new billet grinding line, and two new forging furnaces. The project is scheduled to be completed before the end of this year, and reportedly will double the plant’s forging capacity, according to one Alcoa official, allowing it to support various aerospace sector supply programs.
The Martinsville plant is among the operations acquired by Alcoa in its $1.5-billion takeover of RTI International in 2015. It produces a range of titanium billets, blooms, slabs, rounds, and rectangle products, and titanium forgings. It is among the numerous operations contributing to Alcoa’s build-up of aerospace parts and structures in the past three years.
RTI completed a $135-million expansion there in 2012, adding forging, grinding, and hot-rolling capabilities, and establishing a capacity of about 14 million pounds/year of titanium products. According to Daniel Breda, the contractor that carried out the project at that time, the installation included a 50-MN open-die forging press, ingot heating furnaces, manipulators, and related equipment. Danieli Breda also supplied a press control system that allows for fully automatic, semi-automatic, and manual operation.
A complete bar and slab grinding system developed by an affiliated company, Danieli Centro Maskin, as installed at that time, too. That process removes surface and edge defects from titanium bars and mini slabs at temperatures up to 500°C, prior to forging or rolling.
The overall value of the coming expansion project (e.g., tax incentives, job-development credits, and other standard inducements of such development) is not known. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which helped to coordinate the capital investment, along with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia, estimated 15 new jobs would be created by the expansion.
VEDP is a state-chartered authority that coordinates efforts by businesses and state and local agencies for "aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities."
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $80,000 in “regional opportunity funds, for the project, and Alcoa is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Alcoa has not commented on the project, though in a release issued by the VEDP, Alcoa Titanium & Engineered Products president Eric Roegner, offered: “Through this investment, we are positioning Alcoa to capture profitable growth and create greater sustainable value for our customers, employees and shareholders.”