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What is Titanium?


Titanium ingot

Titanium is an exotic metal that possesses a unique combination of mechanical, chemical, and physical properties. Titanium comes with a relatively high price tag and requires special tools to fabricate the metal. This article will provide some basics about Titanium, highlight its benefits over other metals and discuss common use applications.

What is Titanium?

Titanium is element number 22 on the periodic table. It is a metal that’s silver in color, found naturally on earth. In fact, Titanium is the 9th most abundant element on earth. It is typically mined from various minerals in the earth’s crust such as ilmenite, sphene, and rutile. However, it was not discovered by the scientific community until the late 18th century. Furthermore, it was not until the 20th century that it began being used for industrial purposes.

What is the composition of Titanium?

Since Titanium is an element on the periodic table and not an alloy by itself, it is possible to find virtually 100% pure Titanium.

Oftentimes though, it is alloyed with other elements to further enhance its physical and chemical properties. These different alloys are called “grades”. There are around 50 grades of Titanium available for purchase, with several grades being vastly more popular than others. Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all virtually pure Titanium. Grade 5, one of the most used grades of Titanium, has significant amounts of aluminum and vanadium in its makeup (>3% each).

Two examples of the most corrosion resistant grades of Titanium are Grade 7 and Grade 11. They are “near pure” Titanium, with additions of palladium (<0.5%) giving them their superb corrosion resistance.

There are many grades of Titanium; these are just some of the most popular.

What are the properties of Titanium?

Titanium is known primarily for two properties:

  • Corrosion resistance
  • Strength to density ratio

Titanium is superb at resisting corrosion because oxygen molecules combine with Titanium to form Titanium oxides. This Titanium oxide layer is passive and quite tenacious, which means it will not flake off like rust on steel and can resist chemical attacks from substances such as chlorine compounds.

Titanium also has a high strength-to-weight and strength-to-density ratio, meaning that it is quite strong for how light it is. Some grades of Titanium, such as Grade 5, have substantially higher tensile strengths than mild steel with just over half of the density.

What is Titanium used for?

One of the most common uses for Titanium is in the aerospace industry. Its high amount of strength and relatively low density make it a desirable metal for use in planes and rockets because of fuel efficiency concerns.

The marine industry is another area that frequently relies on Titanium for its applications. This is because of its corrosion resistance, especially in saltwater environments where corrosion due to chlorine is a concern.

Its superb chemical resistance is also why it is used in chemical processing plants.

Many medical devices also use Titanium because of its strength and corrosion resistance.

Although not as popular as gold or silver, Titanium is sometimes used in different types of jewelry.

 

References:

Element information, properties and uses | Periodic Table (rsc.org)
https://continentalsteel.com/
Grades and Relative Properties – Rolled Alloys, Inc.
AISI 1030 Carbon Steel (UNS G10300) (azom.com)
Ti-6Al-4V (Grade 5), Annealed Bar (matweb.com)


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