The Perfect (Hemi)Sphere

The Deepest Dive in History. The World’s First Repeated Dives to Full Ocean Depths. These records held by the TRITON 36,000/2 submersible were made possible by ATI Forged Products’ materials science expertise.

For over a decade, the Triton Submarines team has built reliable, dependable submersibles. To take on their toughest challenge yet – building the first fully certified Full Ocean Depth-capable submersible – Triton engaged ATI, knowing that our advanced capabilities and materials science expertise were crucial for success.

The partnership between ATI and Triton began years before the TRITON 36,000/2 took its first plunge in 2019, with extensive research, development and trial runs that resulted in ATI helping Triton to transform titanium into the perfect hemispherical shape that would withstand Full Ocean Depth pressure – up to 11,000 meters (nearly 7 miles) under the sea.

The task was clear: forging a 90mm thick pressure hull out of titanium within 0.1% of perfect sphericity, necessary to ensure the homogenous microstructure and consistent mechanical properties enabling equal distribution of weight while maintaining integrity of the shape. While ATI’s 15,000-ton hydraulic press based in Cudahy, Wisconsin is no stranger to titanium hulls, our materials science expertise and advanced process technologies really came into play to deliver the now-confirmed 99.933% true sphericity, enabling the world first of repeated dives to the depths.

Triton’s schedule required the forging to be made correctly the 
first time, and on-time. In the true spirit of Relentless Innovation, the 
talented team at ATI Forged Products worked for months, envisioning possible manufacturing risks and then abating them through a risk mitigation process to ensure all went well. Relying on modeling and predictive technologies, each intermittent target shape was carefully engineered to refine the structure until a flat disc – or “pancake” – was formed. This process was repeated to produce a second pancake with the same properties.

Ultimately, both titanium pancakes were converted to a dome shape through precise control of the 20,000-lb open dies against the gravity of 15,000 tons of force. Once formed, the team conducted a thorough review of the processes and properties, ensuring that both domes would satisfy the necessary requirements for service: increased volume, deeper depths, longer time submerged. 

The TRITON 36,000/2 exists for reasons far beyond being a record-holder. The submersible makes possible opportunities for extensive scientific research and exploration that enables greater understanding of the oceans that exist as Earth’s last unexplored frontier.
Click here to watch the Nick Verola documentary,
Forging the Triton 36000/2 Titanium Pressure Hull
(ATI is featured around ~8:09!)
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