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High-tech metalmakers throttle up R&D.

High-tech metalmakers throttle up R&D

The 30 or 40 U.S. makers of specialty metals have been looking over their shoulders lately. Right now, they maintain an edge over their European and Pacific Rim competitors entering this market, observes Robert J. Torcolini, a vice-president of Carpenter Technology Corp. in Reading, Pa. But during the 1980s, U.S. metalmakers reduced their research and development efforts because their production capacity outpaced demand for their wares. Their products include such materials as the lithium-aluminum alloys that can lighten airplanes, making them more energy efficient, and the nickel, chromium or cobalt-based "superalloys" that perform reliably under a jet engine's high stresses and temperatures.

To rekindle basic research into metallic materials in the United States, 10 companies (including Torcolini's) signed an agreement July 18 with the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. It establishes the Specialty Metals Processing Consortium, a collaborative research group to develop new, high-tech metals that are lighter, more corrosion resistant, stronger and more fatigue resistant than existing materials. The consortium will also focus on advancing the processing techniques for producing these metals.

Member companies will each pay $50,000 per year. Sandia will share its facilities and technical know-how. The Energy Department will provide additional funds until 1995, when members expect the program to pay for itself.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 4, 1990
Words:221
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