Mr. Stanley Abkowitz, an award-winning pioneer in the U.S. titanium metals industry and the founder of Dynamet Technology Inc., succumbed on Oct. 29, at the age of 90.
A 1948 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Abkowitz, who was trained as a metallurgist, quite literally helped to establish the American titanium industry through his work on developing Ti-6Al-4V, the widely used alloy that shaped numerous aerospace, industrial and commercial designs and applications. In essence, Abkowitz's work marked the coming of age of titanium's promise as "the wonder metal."
A member of the Watertown Arsenal, MA, during the early 1950s, an Army research center for titanium, Abkowitz's titanium/aluminum/vanadium alloy was hailed as a major breakthrough with strategic military significance for the United States. This was the era when Cold War tensions dominated the world order. In those early years, titanium production was ramped up for the production of the Lockheed U2 spy plane, which was introduced in the mid-1950s, flew at a dizzying altitude of 70,000 feet, and monitored military installations in the Soviet Union.
The New York Times, in its May 17, 1954 edition, carried an article titled "Titanium Studies Bring New Alloy; Light Material Developed by Army Reported as Tough as High-Strength Steel:"
…laboratory tests showed the alloy to be 40 percent lighter in weight than high-strength steel. However, it is highly corrosion resistant and has properties that compare favorably with those of steel used in making heavy weapons, tanks and armor plate. The alloy was worked out by Stanley Abkowitz, a member of the arsenal's laboratory staff who was serving as a technical supervisor of a contract with the Armour Research Foundation of Chicago. The foundation is one of many agencies engaged in titanium research for the arsenal under government contract.
Abkowitz went on to publish the first technical paper on the Ti-6Al-4V alloy on June 10, 1954, unveiled during a technical symposium held at Columbia University, NY. One year later he published Titanium in Industry, the first book to document the emergence of the young titanium business. Abkowitz, in 1999, also wrote a monograph titled The Emergence of the Titanium Industry.
In 1972, Abkowitz founded Dynamet Technology, which was based in Burlington, MA, and focused on the development of titanium powder metallurgy. In June 2014 RTI International Metals Inc. acquired Dynamet. One year later aluminum giant Alcoa purchased RTI.
The International Titanium Association (ITA) lauded Abkowitz's distinguished career by acknowledging him in 2000 as the first recipient of the organization's prestigious "Titanium Lifetime Achievement Award." He also won the ITA's 2013 "Applications Development Award" for his work that marked a new era for the use of titanium powder metal technology in the aerospace industry.
In 2005 ASM International (originally known as the American Society for Metals), awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award. A 1972 ASM Fellow, Abkowitz also received the William Hunt Eisenman Award in 1999. He holds 24 patents and has authored 60 papers and articles on titanium technology.