Titanium is in demand for its superior mechanical and other properties. It boasts the highest strength to weight ratio of any metal, is highly corrosion resistant and non-toxic.
Titanium is the 4th most abundent element in the earth’s crust. The majority of titanium (globally, 1.6 million tonnes per year) is used in the form of titanium dioxide as a white pigment in paints, cosmetics and other products. Demand for titanium metal is dominated by aerospace, using around 79% of the worlds production of approximately 170,000 tonnes per year. The remaining 21% being used in a range of industries such as medical, defense, industrial, automotive and consumer goods. Titanium metal is typically used in applications where it’s unique characteristics of strength, low weight and corrosion resistance enable performance beyond other economic materials. Titanium use in consumer products is growing as consumers want the most advanced laptops, mobile phones, cameras, sports gear and other gadgets available.
Titanium and its alloys offer a unique range of properties:
- High tensile strength with good ductility
- Low weight, 42% lighter than steel
- Low electrical and thermal conductivity
- Excellent fracture resistance
- Excellent corrosion resistance
- Bio-compatibility including medical implants.
- Low modulus/super elasticity
- Shape memory properties
- Non-magnetic properties
- Hydrogen affinity (for hydrogen storage)
The world has entered what could be termed the Titanium Age with growing use in aerospace and medical applications. Approximatly 15% of the weight of latest generation Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft is titanium, compared to approx 4% in earlier generation aircraft – enabling weight saving, range and fuel efficiency to be improved. An ageing world population is increasing demand for orthopaedic implants, many of which are made from titanium.
Concern for our environment means people want a clean and low cost manufacturing process using light/strong materials. The market for titanium powder metallurgy is still small but presents an opportunity for immense growth and added value to products and exports, particularly as cheaper production processes are developed.