Titanium has a reputation for being the best, which almost always means the most expensive as well. However, there are some factors that you want to think about before you start worrying about just the raw numbers. Longevity, durability, and use can all be considered a part of the pricing scale when working with titanium.
Titanium can be found in almost every industry these days. In the medical industry, they use it for tools and hardware. It is also the top choice for implanted plates or screws for surgical procedures. NASA is a massive supporter of the titanium industry. The material’s durability is key to aerospace technology. Not only does the titanium provide durability and the ability to withstand large forces and excessive temperatures. But, it also is exceptionally lightweight, critical when you’re trying to get a spacecraft off the planet. The military and police are another area titanium is becoming the go-to product. Protective vests need to be of the highest quality yet still be light enough to make police and troops maneuverable.
Navy ships and sporting uses tons of titanium. The intensive resistance to rust and corrosion has led it to become a leader in the naval construction industry. That same factor has introduced it to the racing car industry. As it’s becoming more commonplace in a broader range of industries, it’s not surprising that most people switch from steel or start with titanium for their products these days.
Titanium and steel are similar in some ways. Titanium is the first thing most product designers will think of when asked to come up with a versatile, strong, and durable material. More often than not these days, titanium is overtaking steel. These are a couple of the reasons that manufactures are switching.
Steel in some formulations is rust-resistant. However, it can’t compare with titanium’s greater resistance to rust and corrosion, making it safe for anything that needs to be regularly directly in contact with liquid.
Even though titanium may be a little steeper in the beginning price, the difference tends to pay for itself. Not to mention that even though it’s considered a rare metal, it’s still cost-effective when you get right down to it.
Titanium comes in all forms, but the most commonly available when looking to buy for construction or production needs are titanium sheets, bars, and plates. Bars, plates, and titanium sheeting are all used in different industries; however, sometimes, one form is more prevalent than another.
Bars, for example, are usually actually round and look more like rods consisting of titanium produced with Titanium Orch. They are extremely lightweight, sleek-looking, yet surprisingly sturdy. The bars are often found in artistic architecture, as one example. The sleek look combined with their ability to be sturdy makes them the perfect choice for an architect looking to make a statement. The aerospace industry is another prime consumer of titanium bars. Titanium bars are often the frame of an airplane, making it stronger than its predecessors and lighter weight than some of the other sturdy options.
Titanium plates can also be used in these industries but generally for different purposes. Titanium plates come in a variety of thicknesses, dimensions, and grades. Aerospace and marine industries make up a good portion of the consumers of titanium plates. There are now submarines crafted from titanium plates due to their ability to withstand corrosion and significant pressure. Plates are often also the base product for creating medical surgical implants for repairing things like broken bones.
Titanium sheets are back in the aerospace but in a slightly different department. The sheeting is so versatile that it can most easily be formed either hot or cold. As a result, both airplane and spacecraft producers have considered titanium sheets to build the craft’s skin. The automotive industry is also finding new and innovative uses for titanium sheets.
Now that we’ve covered the basic types of titanium, it’s essential to understand the grades.
Each type of product, sheet, bar, and plate titanium comes in multiple grades.
The grades range from 1 to 4, and then there are also alloys, including 5, 7, 12, and 23.
Grade 1 is generally the softest of the four primary grades of titanium. Most commonly, you’ll find this in plates. The primary uses include aerospace, medical, power, chemical facilities, to name a few. However, just because this is the softest of the grades doesn’t mean it’s not still among the most robust materials. By saying it’s soft, it simply means that it is more formable than higher grades.
Even within the grades, the prices can vary widely.
For example, a grade 1 plate with a thickness of 1.3″ inches and a length of 12″ can cost around $112.00. Whereas a plate that’s 12″ by 47″ long with a thickness of .07 can cost about $287.00
Each Step up becomes a harder level. Grade 2, for example, can still be formed but is more often found in the frame of an airplane.
In Grade 3, you are to lose some of that formability that the first two grades offer. However, it’s stronger and can still be welded. In addition, it has higher corrosion resistance than the first two grades. Chemical processing and marine construction are two of the primary industry for this grade.
Grade 4 is the strongest of the standard titanium grades. It can still be formed but less so than the other three. When the need for durability is the most significant concern, like in surgical hardware and things that require heat exchange, designers and production will choose grade 4.
Then we get into the alloys. Alloys are what it’s called when titanium is mixed with one or more metals. Grade 5, also known as Ti 6AL-4V, is probably the most common alloy its good at corrosion, is lightweight, and easily formable. Used for aircraft turbines and engine parts as well as surgical implants.
Grade 7 is the titanium with the highest level of weld ability and the best for forming. Still, more than that, it offers the most corrosion resistance of all the titanium and alloys. Thus, making it perfect for the chemical industry.
Grade 12 alloy is often compared with 300 series steel. It’s an alloy because they added palladium to make it more formable and more accessible to weld.
Finally, Grade 23, also known as Ti 6AL-4V ELI, is the go-to alloy for medical. Surgical staples, screws pins, and dental equipment, and implants are some of the uses.
The alloys also have a fairly wide price range depending on the size, type, and thickness needed with the product. For example, a titanium bar in 6AL-4V with a .50″ diameter can range from $9.60 for a 6″ length to 153.60 for a 96″ size. Keep in mind that these prices are only examples and may differ much further.
It’s clear that titanium though in most cases costs more in the beginning, has qualities that make it stand up to the impacts the world has to offer. It can handle things from heat and possible corrosive agents to standard wear and tear. So, it’s worth adjusting the budget to upgrade the materials you’re using if they will provide you with lasting results.
Titanium is by far the more durable option when it comes to most metal construction projects. The variety of grades and alloys allow for fitting your project need and helping keep it within budget. However, as we’ve seen, some higher-end titanium options may not be necessary to provide the strength and even resistance needed for most things. So unless you’re building a spaceship or a navy vessel, there are probably lower-grade options that will suit your design.
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