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2019 Titanium Achievement Award
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International Titanium Association’s Lifetime Achievement Recipient
George L. Durfee Drew upon Lessons Learned at His Beloved Alma Mater

(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.

 

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International Titanium Association Honors Russell G. Sherman with
Lifetime Achievement Award 2018

 

The 2018 TITANIUM Conference held in Las Vegas also served as the venue to honor Russell Gordon Sherman, who developed alloys and heat treating protocols for the titanium industry and pioneered the high-volume production of titanium aerospace fasteners, with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. Sherman was involved in developing titanium alloys and heat treating protocols to raise the mechanical properties and usability of the “wonder metal” during the formative years of the titanium industry, according to Frauke Hogue.


 
Russ Sherman accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award from Henry Seiner, ITA President

Sherman presented the initial findings from his research at Titanium Metals Corporation of America (TIMET), Henderson, NV, at the ASM’s convention in Philadelphia in October 1955, a paper titled “The Heat Treatability of Ti-6Al-4V.” The backdrop to his research work came during the Cold War years of the 1950s, when the United States and the Soviet Union were vying for supremacy in aerospace.

News Release 2018

DENVER, Colo. --- International Titanium Association (ITA) is pleased to announce 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Russell Gordon Sherman. Sherman developed alloys and heat treating protocols for the titanium industry and pioneered the high-volume production of titanium aerospace fasteners. The ITA will formally present Sherman with the award at the TITANIUM USA 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Oct. 7-10 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Frauke Hogue, Fellow of American Society for Materials (FASM), an ITA educational instructor and an executive and metallographer with Hogue Metallography, Pacific Palisades, Calif., in a nomination form for the prestigious award, lauded Sherman’s distinguished career. “The entire titanium industry has benefited from Sherman’s research into developing a higher strength titanium (the workhorse Ti-6Al-4V alloy) through the heat treatment of solution treating and aging,” Hogue wrote.

According to Hogue, Sherman was involved in the development of titanium alloys and heat treating protocols to raise the mechanical properties and usability of the “wonder metal” during the formative years of the titanium industry. He presented the initial findings from his research at Titanium Metals Corporation of America (Timet), Henderson, Nev., at the ASM’s convention in Philadelphia in October 1955, in a paper titled “The Heat Treatability of Ti-6Al-4V.” The backdrop to his research work came during the Cold War years of the 1950s, when the United States and the Soviet Union were vying for supremacy in aerospace.

Hogue also recalled that later in Sherman’s career, during the 1960s and into the early 1970s, he worked in the industrial fastener industry where he pioneered high-volume production techniques and heat treating of titanium fasteners for the aerospace industry. This was a time when Boeing needed thousands of fasteners for its 747 commercial jet.

“One-at-a-time hot forging could not meet the volume and price demand (for aerospace fasteners),” Hogue stated. “He made volume production of fasteners possible by working out techniques (for titanium wire) using cold-heading equipment. Working with Egloff & Graper, he made volume heat treating of fasteners possible. This was done by modifying an old AGF ‘Shaker’ hearth furnace to solution-treat fasteners continually under argon gas protection.”

A resident of Santa Monica, Calif., and still active as a consultant in the titanium industry, Sherman said he’s proudest of his accomplishments during his early years at Timet. “This was a time when no one knew anything about titanium,” he said during a telephone interview. He affectionately described this period of his career as ‘Titanium 101,’ when he and colleagues had to teach themselves about the metal’s properties and its vast potential as a strategic material for military and industrial applications.

Sherman was born in Baltimore and lived in Norfolk, Va., and Philadelphia. He served in the Army during World War II, in the European Theater, and was once again called into active duty during the Korean War. He was honorably discharged from military service in August 1953 and soon after landed a position as a metallurgist with Timet.

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