One of the most abundant elements on Earth, titanium, is being increasingly used in today’s society. It occurs in the minerals ilmenite, sphene and rutile and is found in titanates and numerous iron ores. As strong as steel but much less dense, titanium is an important alloying agent with many metals such as iron, molybdenum and aluminium.
One of the key features of titanium alloys is their ability withstand extreme environments. Due to its survivability titanium is heavily utilised and associated with the aerospace, medical, power, oil and gas industries. Some less thought of industries that titanium has also been sourced for are the automotive, electrics and desalination industries.
Almost two-thirds of all the titanium metal produced is used in the frames and engines of aircraft – the A380 Airbus, for instance, uses approximately 70 tons. Military aircraft such as the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and the F-22, F/A-18, C-17 and F-35, also use large quantities of titanium.
The metal is used in the landing gear, airframe, fasteners, and engines. Engine parts manufactured from titanium include shafts, blades, discs, and casings for the front fan to the rear end of the engine. One example of extreme conditions some of these parts must cope with is temperature ranges from sub-zero to 600 degrees Celsius.
Titanium is also a perfect fit for space vehicles, which require materials that are high strength, corrosion resistant and lightweight. The material was heavily used in the construction of the space shuttles and the international space station.
Past uses of titanium in the automotive industry have been primarily focused on racing. However, in the early 2000s, Volkswagen was the first to use a titanium alloy in a mass-produced car – the Lupo. Specifically, they used titanium springs instead of steel ones. Today, Tesla uses titanium sheeting for underbody shields on their Model S sedan. It’s designed to substantially improve safety as it helps to protect sensitive front underbody components from being damaged.
For wider use within the automotive industry, greater developments are required to improve the economics of titanium; these developments may be found in new manufacturing methods.
Titanium circuit board hybrids promise a new era in the manufacture of circuit boards. They can do more than traditionally printed circuit boards, or PCBs, are hardy and work well in hostile environments.
A titanium electronic circuit board is made by the precision screen printing and firing of conductors, dielectrics and resistors onto the titanium metal. Other electronic and non-electronic components are then added to produce an electronic circuit that can be ‘bolted on’.
Titanium hybrids have a much higher reliability due to fewer solder interconnections and also have extremely accurate active circuit calibration. They operate on a wider operating temperature range, are very compact – being half the size of the most complex PCBs – and are fully enclosed for complete protection from the environment.
Titanium circuits can also be used in applications that involve heating elements, weighing, load cells and force measurement, and can be used for flow measurement, fluid pressure and temperature measurement and strain gauge applications.
Titanium is one of the most bio-compatible metals – the human body can handle it with no harmful effects. Its mechanical properties include improved resistance to wear and tear, high elasticity, and good hot and cold formability, which make it perfect for use in surgical implants like hip balls, joint replacements, heart stents and tooth implants.
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From surgical titanium instruments to orthopaedic titanium rods, plates and pins, medical and dental titanium have now become the material of choice. Titanium 6AL4V and 6AL4V ELI, alloys made with 4% vanadium and 6% aluminium are the most prevalent types of titanium used in medicine, and when used as dental implants, they offer greater fracture resistance. Titanium is also non-toxic and has the ability to withstand corrosion from bodily fluids.
Not only incredibly durable, titanium is long-lasting, and when titanium cages, rods, plates and pins are inserted into the body, they can last for twenty years or more. What’s even more amazing is that titanium dental implants and posts last even longer.
Because of titanium’s non-ferromagnetic properties, patients with titanium implants are able to be safely examined with MRIs and NMRIs. The body’s bone and tissue also bond to the artificial titanium implant in a process known as osseointegration, which anchors the titanium implant firmly into place.
Titanium has a lot of strengths and could be used in many new ways in the future. Here at Matmatch, we’re carefully monitoring new developments. If you’d like to know more, please contact one of our team today at firstname.lastname@example.org.