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Titanium Achievement Award
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2019 Lifetime Achievement Winner - George L. Durfee 

(Denver, Colorado) George L. Durfee, a metallurgist who built his career around pioneering applied research projects for the titanium industry at forging company Wyman-Gordon Co., is the recipient of the prestigious 2019 International Titanium Association’s (ITA) “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Durfee will be honored at the ITA’s 35th annual TITANIUM USA 2019 conference and exhibition, which will be held Sept. 22–25 at the SMG Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, AL.

In Durfee’s nomination form, Max Schilenger, the president of Flight Rail Corp., Ukiah, CA, praised Durfee for “pioneering Ti-6-Al-4V (the workhorse aerospace titanium alloy) alpha-beta processing knowhow in forging and flow forming.” Schilenger pointed out that through Durfee’s insights and efforts, press and hammer optimal forging of titanium alloys—ceramic and nickel-plated—were critical in producing parts on the legendary Lockheed SR71 Blackbird, the high-speed, long-distance reconnaissance jet. The SR71 was an iconic aircraft that played a key role for the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War era of the 1960s.

Born in 1929 and growing up on a farm in Falls City, NE, Durfee was fascinated by the welding and repair of metal farm equipment—what he referred to as “blacksmith work.” He received a scholarship to Michigan Tech (today known as Michigan Technical University in Houghton, MI) and graduated in 1951. As a student at Michigan Tech, his research on thermal analysis of metals and ceramic coatings used in forgings would prove to be essential as a foundation for his career in the titanium industry. After graduating from Michigan Tech, he enrolled in graduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Hands-on, applied research became his calling when he joined Wyman-Gordon on Aug. 1, 1954. Initially, Durfee’s assignments at Wyman-Gordon involved micro-polishing and heat treating to improve the in-service performance of high-temperature alloys and large aluminum forgings used in aerospace programs. In April 1955 was assigned to a high-priority project: develop Ti-6Al-4V forgings and present a plan for the approval of Pratt & Whitney for the production of compressor discs, which would be used in the J57 engines to power the Boeing B52 long-distance bomber, another iconic military aircraft.

In order to reduce friction and minimize surface defects of the forged titanium compressor discs, Durfee developed the use of ceramics coatings for the starting metal before the metal was heated for forging. The ceramic coatings significantly improved uniform part geometry. Pratt & Whitney, in November 1955, approved Ti-6Al-4V as the bill of material for jet engine compressor discs used on the J57 turbo-jet engines.

In another important project at Wyman-Gordon, Durfee created procedures for chemically applying a nickel coating on a proprietary titanium aerospace alloy used for forged aerospace parts. As a result, Durfee received a patent for the electroless nickel plating of titanium. In a separate effort, Durfee pioneered flow forming Ti-6Al-4V and, along with co-inventors, was granted a patent.

Durfee retired in May 1994, closing out his distinguished 39-year career.


Previous Lifetime Achievement Winners:

Russell G. Sherman 2018


James Paddock


This award was presented to Mr. Paddock for his innovation and foresight for developing impactful global titanium distribution within the titanium industry

Clyde Forney


This award was presented to Mr. Forney for his Instrumental part in the Production and Commercialization of Ti-3Al-2.5V alloy as the material of choice for aircraft hydraulic tubing and many other applications.

Walter Herman


This award was presented to Mr. Herman for technical contributions related to process metallurgy and quality control of specialty metals, especially Titanium.

Paul Bania


This award was presented to Mr. Bania for the development of eight new titanium alloys, and significant work in the development of new methods in titanium melting and production.

J. Landis Martin


This award was presented to Mr. Martin for superior leadership and long term vision promoting the growth of titanium via innovative manufacturing, new applications, and forging strategic partnerships.

Max Schlienger


This award was presented to Mr. Schlienger for his leadership in developing equipment and viable technology for melting of titanium

Harry Rosenberg


This award was presented to Dr. Rosenberg for contributions to the successful development of titanium in both aerospace and industrial markets.

Edward Sobota Sr.


This award was presented to Mr. Sobota for his dedication and unrelenting efforts to promote titanium, actively support its growth and innovative development of a integrated specialty mill

Robert Hill


This award was presented to Mr. Hill as a leader and pioneer in developing vacuum-thermal processing solutions for the aerospace industry.

Vladislav Tetyukhin


This award was presented to Dr. Tetyukhin in recognition for his for outstanding career achievements

James Perryman Sr.


This award was presented to Mr. Perryman for his outstanding career achievements and pioneering efforts in developing titanium production and process technologies

Harold Kessler


This award was presented to Mr. Kessler in recognition for outstanding contributions as a pioneer in the development of titanium alloys and technologies.

Milton Scaturro


This award was presented to Mr. Scaturro for the promotion of incorporating titanium in all areas within the Navy and Marine sectors.

James Williams


This award was presented to Dr. Williams for furthering the metallurgical knowledge and the applications of titanium through significant research in titanium alloys.

John V. Andrews


This award was presented to Mr. Andrews for the development & commercialization of the plasma cold hearth furnace for melting titanium alloys for critical rotating components in turbine engines

Kazuyasu Kitaoka


This award was presented to Mr. Kitaoka for his leadership in forging a bond between the Japan Titanium Society and the ITA


Richard Sandquist



This award was presented to Mr. Sandquist for his pioneering efforts in international titanium scrap procurement, processing, and recycling, leading to the development of the cold hearth melting industry

Rodney R. Boyer


This award was presented toMr. Boyer for his development and expertise associated with new uses and applications for titanium alloys in airframes.

Stanley R. Seagle


This award was presented to Mr. Seagle for technical and commercial successes in the development of new titanium alloys, processes, and applications.

Howard R. Harker


This award was presented to Mr. Harker for vision and leadership in the development and commercialization of the cold hearth melting process

Stanley Abkowitz


This award was presented to Mr. Abkowitz for his outstanding career achievements.

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