Mastering Metalworking: 4 Advantages of Titanium Tubing

 

When it comes to metalworking, there are so many materials to choose from that it is advantageous to be intimately familiar with which materials are best for which circumstances. Different tubing materials come with different pros and cons. Steel, stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, and copper each have unique situations that they are most suitable for, but a sometimes overlooked material by metalworkers is titanium. Titanium is used in various industries and has a variety of advantages. This article aims to provide information about the different advantageous aspects of titanium tubing.

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Before Getting Started

Before embarking on any metalworking project it is important to do the necessary preparation. The first step is to be sure to acquire the appropriate tools and materials, for example for a tubing project one would need tubing products. It is also vital to ensure that all necessary safety equipment is available and in good condition, especially eye protection, a dust mask, ear protection, an apron, and gloves. The last step of preparation is to have done the research and planning of what needs to be accomplished in the project, making sure that every step is safe, and no unexpected mishaps will happen that may cause harm or simply waste time and materials

The Four Advantages

Titanium pipe is being used in a growing number of applications because stainless steel and other materials are largely insufficient in certain situations. Because of its four advantages of low density, corrosion resistance, resistance to chemicals, and heat transfer properties, tubing is one of the most popular titanium mill products. It is used in a variety of industries such as chemical processing, oil and gas, aerospace, and power plants.

Low Density

One of the biggest advantages of titanium tubing is its low density. Titanium tubes are far lighter than steel, copper, or nickel. Even though it is lighter, it is still strong and rigid compared to other alloys. For example, titanium is sixty percent more dense than aluminum but twice as strong. Conversely, it has a tensile strength roughly equal to that of low-grade steel but is far less dense. Commercially pure titanium has a tensile strength of around 63,000 psi, but certain alloys can hold up to over 200,000 psi. Titanium also is easily shaped but retains that shape well.

Corrosion Resistance

Another extremely beneficial aspect of titanium is its resistance to corrosion. Of course, like similar metals, it will react with oxygen, but only at extremely high temperatures (1,130 degrees Fahrenheit). However, in ambient temperatures, both in air and water, it is extremely slow to react. This is because it forms a thin, passive oxide coating that prevents the rest of the metal from reacting. This protective layer is only one to two nanometers thick at first but will increase very slowly. After four years the layer can reach 25 nanometers thick. For comparison, a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

Chemical Resistance

In addition to being resistant to corrosion, titanium is also resistant to many chemicals. Its resistance is almost equal to that of platinum. The same passive oxide coating that keeps titanium from corroding in air or water also makes it resistant to dilute sulphuric acids, hydrochloric acids, chlorine solutions, and most organic acids. In higher concentrations, it is not as resistant. This chemical resistance is superior to that of steel grade 304 and even grade 316. One of the great aspects of this non-reactivity is that it makes titanium biocompatible. This means that the human body will not react to titanium the same way it might other materials, which makes it very useful for medical implants.

Heat Transfer

Unlike copper and carbon steel, titanium has great resistance to heat. This is due to the fact that titanium is a poor conductor of both heat and electricity. Thanks to this resistance, titanium tubing can work properly in temperatures exceeding 600 degrees. In more everyday uses, such as in sports equipment, this aspect of titanium means that objects made of it will not be as cold to the touch in cold weather. This is because when something feels cold, it is actually because it is absorbing heat from the hand. Being a poor conductor, titanium does not absorb that heat and therefore does not feel as cold as other metals.


Uses for Titanium Tubing

These four properties make titanium an extremely popular material. Its lightness, strength, and thermal resistance make it an ideal material for spacecraft and airplanes. It is also frequently used in marine contexts, due to its resistance to corrosion by salt water. Its resistance to chemicals makes it a popular choice for use in chemical and petrochemical industries, and its lightweight strength makes it a common choice for high-end sporting equipment, like bicycle frames, tennis rackets, and golf clubs.

Challenges to Keep in Mind

Although titanium tubing has many great advantages, it may not be the right choice for every project. When compared to steel, titanium is slightly more brittle and difficult to draw into a tube. This results in a slightly less smooth finished surface than one might get from stainless steel. Steel can also be drawn into thinner measurements than titanium. This brittleness also makes titanium more difficult to machine, and there are greater chances of having a rough finish or chipping. This means it may pose far more of a challenge, especially for beginners. These potential issues may not be an outright deterrent, but they are something to keep in mind when considering all options.


Final Thoughts

Titanium is the ninth most common element in the earth’s crust, and the fourth most common metal used as a structural material. After examining its unique combination of advantageous properties, it is easy to see why. Its high strength-to-density ratio, resistance to corrosion and chemical, and its lack of conductivity of both heat and electricity make it an ideal choice for many applications, from spacecraft to bicycle frames, from heat exchangers to joint replacement. Titanium may be the right material for a number of metalworking projects.

 

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