VERDI, Nev. (KOLO) -- A Verdi company is responsible for building a critical part for jet engines that play a key role in keeping passengers and crews safe as they travel through the air.
Arconic workers make a engine casing made from titanium for an Airbus A380. The metal is heated to 1,750 degrees Fahrenheit. The machine is applying 400 tons of pressure to expand the ring from just more than 7 feet across to just under 10 feet.
It makes the part of the engine called the casing, which is the outer layer surrounding the blades and other equipment used push the aircraft forward through the air.
The parts are made west of Reno in Verdi at Arconic.
The parts made in northern Nevada are designed to be light enough to give aircraft as much lift as possible, but strong enough to contain a potential catastrophe within the engine's compartment to protect the jet's main body and travelers inside.
"Our parts go on the largest commercial airliners in the world and the most advanced military fighter planes," says Arconic Planet Manager Mark Quattrin.
Like the Airbus A380 or the F35, Arconic is filling orders this month to make the air intake for this fighter jet.
Arconic's parts are seamless and that makes them unique and much more challenging to make. Essentially, each part comes from metal billets often weighing nearly 1000 pounds.
The steel is shipped to the Verdi location from the United Kingdom, nickel-based alloy is from the United States, and titanium often comes from Russia.
Workers transport the metals into one of 14 furnaces. The metal is heated up to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We flatten it. Punch a hole in it and from that point on we can basically open up the diameter," said Quattrin.
Then a forklift sets the red hot metal on another machine. The large hole rests horizontally to the ground. A large metal arm slips through the opening and lifts the softened metal up to adjacent wheels and the spinning begins. The heat and pressure along with the spinning opens the diameter even more changing the hot metal before the worker's eyes.
"Then we put it in a 3,200-ton press," said Quattrin.
That's enough force to equal 6,400,000 pounds. It would take more than 14 Statues of Liberty standing on top of the metal to create this kind of pressure.
The heat along with the extreme pressure strengthens the metal and helps it withstand a potential catastrophic engine explosion in the air.
A part made during the afternoon of January 11, 2018 will become the outer shell of an F15 fighter jet.
In another part of the production facility, a different piece of metal is taken to a ring mill. A fork lift rushes the titanium engine casing for an A380 from a 1,750-degree Fahrenheit furnace and sets it down with the opening vertical to the ground. Then the spinning begins.
"Start to reduce the wall thickness of the material, which is going to flare the ring out," said Quattrin.
The ring mill is holding the red hot spinning metal down with 200 tons of pressure, or 400,000 pounds, and is pushing the ring out with 400 tons or 800,000 pounds. The titanium strikes and squeals from all the pressure and heat.
A worker places thick black grease on the ring to lubricate it as it passes through the several metal arms shaping it into the engine part it's about to become. A man sitting in a glass-encased room above the spinning action and large machinery controls the process with the simple push of buttons and levers.
The machine is forcing the metal ring to expand from just more than 7 feet across to just under 10 feet. The part is cooled and then it will be ready for shipment to an Airbus factory where it will eventually be put on a passenger get.
Arconic employs 150 people. They're skilled blacksmiths, machinists, engineers, and workers who are building the next generation of jet for your travel and our nation's defense.
Arconic celebrated its 50th anniversary in northern Nevada December 7, 2017. In that time it has grown from a 30,000-square-foot warehouse to its current 140,000-square-foot facility.