Interview with Wirtschaftsforum: Titanium for Europe – by Europeans
Titanium is a sought-after raw material that is used in many different industries. However, titanium resources are scarce. Demand in Europe is high – and growing. Hermith GmbH, based in Munich, is one of the few European suppliers of titanium. Given the shortage of the material, the company is developing a process for manufacturing of additive parts that can reduce material waste by a factor of ten.
Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Rasskazov, you are one of the very few titanium producers based in Europe. What is Hermith’s core competency?
Alexey Rasskazov: We originally started out just distributing and trading titanium, with sources in Russia and the United States. Then we went further and further, initially began with technical support for our customers and then developed and patented more and more processing methods. In 2015 we started our own production and since 2016 we have been supplying Europe with our own products. We now have a whole range of semifinished titanium products, with a focus on aircraft construction. In Germany and Europe we have only a few competitors. We bundle all technological solutions and patents in our Munich headquarters to react flexibly. We supply all the well-known names in the industry, such as Bombardier, Airbus, Leonardo, Pilatus, Embraer, Golfstream, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.
Wirtschaftsforum: Do you specialize in certain products?
Alexey Rasskazov: We specialize in tubes. We are able to deliver the largest dimensions as well as the smallest diameters. Only a few suppliers worldwide can do that. In addition, we also have round and rectangular bars, plates and ingots in our portfolio. We cut the products individually according to customers requirements and supply them with exactly what they need. We are flexible, faster than the big companies and also work with the smallest quantities.
Wirtschaftsforum: Titanium is an important raw material with limited sources. What role does sustainability play in your business?
Alexey Rasskazov: In Germany alone there are already 700 companies that process the material. The supply of titanium must be secured in the long term, it is essential for system-critical areas. We are in close contact with the Ministry of Economy in Berlin and Munich, as well as the European Commission. In 2020, the European Commission added titanium to the list of critical raw materials because the EU does not have its own source of titanium and the demand for this material is very high. For the aerospace industry it is allowed to use a maximum of 20% of remelted titanium. We are one of the world leaders in development of additive manufacturing. Traditionally, titanium is forged, then milled into the required shape. You can’t cast titanium, it loses its structure. Since 2017 we have cooperation with a leading company for the production of additive parts. We generate parts from wire layer by layer. With the traditional method, there is a material loss of up to 86%. In additive manufacturing, it is just 8%. This is the method of the future. We would like to open the first factory in Europe to use it. US companies are currently dominating the market and aircraft manufacturers are dependent on them. The prices are high.
Wirtschaftsforum: You have become very successful in a very difficult market. How did you manage that?
Alexey Rasskazov: We observe the markets, trends and the competition very closely. The demand for titanium is high. We are fast and flexible and our international team that is open to innovations.
Wirtschaftsforum: What do you expect from 2022?
Alexey Rasskazov: The war was a human shock for us. The situation is unstable, the dynamics are negative. Both are bad for business. Still we get good support from the economic authorities, such as the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, the chambers of commerce and the German Aerospace Industries Association. Hermith GmbH is not on the sanctions lists, we are allowed to continue producing in Russia, while production there is completely under our control. Although the political situation is unstable, deliveries are continuing.
Wirtschaftsforum: Against this background, as an entrepreneur, do you have an appeal to politicians?
Alexey Rasskazov: Our company has an international team, with employees from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, India and many other countries. Today we implement projects in many countries around the world. We had big plans in Ukraine, which we’ve all put on hold for now. We need peace – as soon as possible.
Hermith GmbH at ILA 2018 in Berlin
In 2017 Hermith GmbH certified it’s Titanium production acc. to EN 9100. Within a few months of this certification Hermith GmbH successfully entered the market with a range of innovative, high-quality products and participated in April this year at Germany’s biggest Air Show ILA in Berlin.
As the first Bavarian Producer of Titanium Raw Materials, it was our main concern to unveil the high quality and the customer-focused innovation of our production to the national and international expert audience. We presented the full range of our products as well as some results from our ongoing R&D projects, including our Titanium Wire for Additive Manufacturing and Special Titanium Alloys for medical, ultrasonic welding, and automotive applications.
Of particular interest to our clients were Hermith’s Seamless Tubes. These tubes are in the aerospace market the key for hydraulic applications, requiring ductile, seamless, thin wall tubes that can also resist very high pressures. This has become one of our key products, as Hermith GmbH is the only European producer of tubing with a fully vertically integrated production cycle: from the Titanium sponge to the finished tubing, the whole production process is done in-house. Thanks to this, Hermith GmbH is in the position to provide its clients lead times starting from 3 months and about 30% lower prices than others on the market.
Hermith GmbH wants to thank all its existing and new clients for all the positive feedback and the inspiring conversations during the show and the ILA organizational team for the great job they did. A special thanks to the Bavarian Government, in particular, Staatsminister Franz Josef Pschierer, for all the support they gave to us from the beginning of our activity and for visiting us and the other Bavarian companies at ILA.