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Titanium in industry

Connect, no.84, March 1997

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Titanium alloys have many characteristics advantageous to industry, suggesting that it should be in widespread use. This however is not the case. Until recently its use has been restricted to applications where there is no alternative material because of its high cost. Recent price reductions have encouraged industrial users to take a fresh look at the titanium alloys. On the basis of total life-cycle costings, titanium is now seen to be more economical. The key to its cost effectiveness is to utilise its properties in design issues rather than as a straight substitute for another metal.

To date, major applications of titanium have included aerospace - satellite structures exploit its high strength to weight ratio; automotive - where the drive is towards value engineering; offshore - titanium is ideal for risers (due to its low modulus and high strength), with demand of up to 500 tonnes per well; sport - golf clubs are a major growth area for titanium, demand was recently estimated at 450 tonnes per year; defence - apart from its ballistic capabilities, light weight titanium products are air portable; medical - titanium is inert in the human body so it is an ideal material for implants, with coatings available to hasten acceptance; and the process industries - where its corrosion resistance is exploited for use in critical components.

Industry sectorApplications
Aerospace air frame: flap tracks, undercarriage parts, engine pylons & structural members
engine: fan blades, compressor blades, discs & casings
Automotive prototype corrosion resistant exhaust systems & springs
Offshore firewater systems, heat exchangers, fittings, valves, pipework & risers
Sport golf clubs, racing car components, bicycles, arrows, skates
Defence howitzers, tank turrets, personnel armour
Medical prosthetics, surgical instruments
Process for bleaching systems in pulp & paper plant, food processing equipment

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