Titanium Advantages and Disadvantages
Titanium is an enormously useful metal. Its unique properties mean it sees widespread usage in an array of critical applications.
It is not without fault however and does suffer some disadvantages. It is enormously energy intensive to produce; titanium used for high-performance applications contributes to its high expense considering its relative abundance in the earth’s crust.
Advantages of Titanium
Titanium is highly resistant to chemical attack and has the highest strength to weight ratio of any metal. These unique properties make Titanium suitable for a wide range of applications. It’s stiffness to weight ratio as steel is similar to steel meaning it can be used as a substitute where weight is an important consideration.
This is well highlighted in aviation where its use in landing gear and compressor fans has drastically improved thrust to weight ratios. Titanium is highly recyclable which reduces costs involved in its production. Its inertness means that it can survive weathering and consequentially has a lower lifetime cost that other metals used in architecture and construction.
It is also biocompatible making it well suited to medical usage where it is nontoxic and able to osseointegrate.
Disadvantages of Titanium
The primary disadvantage of Titanium from a manufacturing and engineering perspective is its high reactivity, which means it has to be managed differently during all stages of its production. Impurities introduced during the Kroll process, VAR or machining were once near impossible to remove. The EBCHR process has reduced this risk, but it doesn’t come cheap.
It is not suited in high-temperature ranges, above 400 degrees Celsius, where it begins to lose its strength and nickel-based superalloys, are better equipped to handle the conditions.
It is incredibly important to use the right cutting tools and speeds and feeds during machining. Other metals can be relatively forgiving but titanium isn’t. If you get it right, you will have nothing to worry about.
Titanium does have negative externalities which require mitigation. The issues regarding the extraction processes of titanium ores are well publicised. Depending on location trees are often clear cut to access bedrock. This can contribute to soil degradation and cause the escape of heavy metals into the soil. Which can, if not adequately addressed pose a significant risk of drinking water contamination.
Whilst we are in no danger of running out of titanium, the expense and negative externalities of its extraction and manufacture means efficiency is an important consideration for the industry. At SGS our cutting tools are part of the solution. Designed to reduce waste and improve the efficiency of the Titanium machining process.