Titanium, more commonly knows as Ti, is one of the most durable and expensive metals in the world today. The element was discovered in 1791, and since its discovery, many industries around the world have taken advantage of the mineral for different purposes. More than a century after its first discovery, scientists found a fit in the commercial aerospace and defense industries. Since then, many firms are using the element to produce alloys that will be used to create a variety of aircraft components. Engineers point to the materials’ higher weight to strength ratio than steel and aluminum, Titanium’s performance when exposed to high temperatures, and the material’s ability to resist corrosion makes it a valuable metal for making airplanes.
Titanium is an element that has an atomic number of 22. It is one of the most durable metals on the planet, and it is also difficult to find and produce. The rarity of the element and its high cost of production make it an expensive metal, but despite the high price tags, the aircraft manufacturing industry is still looking for the material to build their products as it offers a spectacular strength to weight ratio and thermodynamic properties. The aerospace industry is spending billions of dollars turning it into a usable alloy. This titanium based alloy will later become products that will be used to build a number of aerospace components used in engines, airframes and mechanical components.
The aerospace industry is also spending large budgets in developing manufacturing processes that try to make the building of titanium components more cost effective. While today’s methods of either casting or machining titanium alloys from billet are what’s considered most effective, new technologies like laser wire additive manufacturing found in the ADDere process can reduce production costs and development time by printing titanium alloys at scale and reduce costly titanium machining time. As production prices come down, the unique characteristics of the material become more and more tantalizing.
Fuel is a limited resource and aircraft consume a lot of it when they fly. To help reduce energy costs of flight, many aircraft manufacturers are resorting to using Ti to build a fuel-efficient airplane. The weight to strength ratio of Ti makes it the best material of choice when building an airplane’s turbine engine power plants, airframe structural elements and other mechanical elements. Titanium alloys are lighter than other metals, and it also has greater durability.
Ti is able to resist high temperatures and corrosion, especially when it makes contact with CFRPs, also known as carbon fiber reinforced polymers. When the airplane takes off or lands, the friction that it creates when reaching for the runway is what generates the extreme heat. Using Ti, the damages incurred from these events can be lowered down. Engine components, landing gear, and airframes of aircraft are now manufactured more and more out of Ti. Airline companies are increasing the use of these advanced materials as they are more reliable compared to other metals.
Aside from the aircraft components and airframes, Ti is also used to build modern turbine engines. Many aircraft manufacturers have implemented the use of Ti in creating engines due to its low weight and higher strength. Airplanes that use engines that are made from Ti have better flight performance compared to other airplanes that are made from other metal alloys. Titanium alloys can also withstand extreme temperatures found in today’s high efficiency turbine power plants. This material characteristic is pushing more airplane manufacturers to expand their use of Ti, and discover where it can be applied further.