Russell Gordon Sherman (pictured), who developed alloys and heat treating protocols for the titanium industry and pioneered the high-volume production of titanium aerospace fasteners, is the recipient of the International Titanium Association’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. The ITA will formally present Sherman with the award at the TITANIUM USA 2018 Conference and Exhibition, October 7-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Frauke Hogue, FASM (Fellow of American Society for Materials), an ITA educational instructor and an executive and metallographer with Hogue Metallography, Pacific Palisades, CA, 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. 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 Hogue. He 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. 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, California, and still active as a consultant in the titanium industry, Sherman said he’s most proud 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, Virginia, and Philadelphia. He served in the Army during World War II, in the European Theater, and again was 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.