Just how strong is Titanium?

As metals go, just how strong is titanium? And how does it stack up against other metals such as stainless steel, iron or platinum?

My brother’s wedding band is titanium, and it is very light, like amazingly light. He says it’s super strong… how true is this…And what other common things do we see titanium being used for?

Titanium is a pretty strong material, especially when it’s been alloyed. It can be stronger than almost any steel, but is less dense.

The most common use for Ti (as TiO2) is a white colouring in toothpaste and paper. More exciting applications include the SR-71 Blackbird, fireworks, or even my bicycle

This should have all the info you are looking for:

http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Ti/index.html (be sure to click on “titanium” to see the data, clicking on the property will define the property)

From the link…

Titanium is used for alloys with with aluminium, molybdenum, manganese, iron, and other metals. These alloys of titanium are used principally in the aerospace industry, for both airframes and engines, where lightweight strength and ability to withstand extremes of temperature are important. Titanium is as strong as steel, but much lighter. It is twice as strong as aluminium. It is nearly as resistant to corrosion as platinum. Titanium is a component of joint replacement parts, including hip ball and sockets.

It has excellent resistance to sea water and is used for propeller shafts, rigging, and other parts of ships exposed to salt water. A titanium anode coated with platinum provides cathodic protection from corrosion by salt water. Titanium paint is an excellent reflector of infrared radiation, and is extensively used in solar observatories where heat causes poor viewing conditions.

Pure titanium dioxide is relatively clear and has an extremely high index of refraction with an optical dispersion higher than diamond. It is produced artificially for use as a gemstone, but it is relatively soft. Star sapphires and rubies exhibit their asterism as a result of the presence of TiO2. The dioxide is used extensively for paint as it is permanent and has good covering power. Titanium oxide pigment accounts for the largest use of the element.

A machinist I once knew was something of a titanium specialist. He offered the rule of thumb: strength similar to steel, density similar to aluminum. It is famous for retaining its strength at high temperature. It is highly non-chemically reactive.

It has a reputation for being difficult to machine, but he said this was largely given by those who try to machine titanium using the techniques appropriate to steel. A different approach is called for.

He apparently was good with titanium. A man came to him one day and asked for a price for machining 100 examples of a thin-walled cylinder within a cylinder, plus end caps. He made these for $200 each. One of them is now on the surface of Mars (a constant-temperature cavity for a crysyal).

It makes one heck of a golf club head, too!

      • Titanium’s significant qualities are that it has higher fatigue resistance than steels or aluminums do, and its chemical properties are different also (-in many cases, it is non-corrosive where steel or aluminum would suffer corrosion).
  • Fatigue resistance is resistance to repeated flexing, such as: suppose you had three pieces of tubing, all the exact same size but made of alloys of aluminum, steel and titanium. Now you put these in a testing machine that clamps one end solid, and flexes the other end back and forth a certain distance, but the same distance for all three. Eventually all will develop cracks and break, but (assuming you have used the best alloy of each) the aluminum will break first, the steel will break a long time after the aluminum, and the titanium will break a long time after the steel.
  • Now, because titanium can withstand flexing so much more than steel or aluminum, the titanium part can be made thinner, and so it will weigh less. So it’s not lighter because it’s stronger, a part made of it ends up made thinner (and therefore lighter) because it can withstand far more flexing without breaking.
  • Titanium is difficult to machine, and requires particular equipment to weld, also–it is best welded inside an argon/innert gas chamber, and I dunno of any other common metals with that requirement. Of course if you have an unlimited budget it’s easy, but compared to typical structural steels and aluminums, dealing with titanium does end up costing a lot more.
  • Pricewise: my local welding supplier shows 1" diameter x .035 aluminum tubing for $1.25 per foot, 4130 steel 1" x .035 for $2.00 per foot, and 3AL2.5V titanium tubing 1" x .020 for $17.20 per foot. I asked once out of curiosity, and though they list a number of sizes of sheets, tubing and rod, most of this they don’t keep on hand but have to order. Last I read a few years ago, most of the US industrial consumption for structural titanium is used for hydraulic lines in large aircraft.
  • Just making a metal “strong” or “hard” isn’t difficult–ordinary single-edged razor blades are way too hard to machine mechanically at all, and all they are is regular ordinary very-high-carbon steel. The problem with building anything large out of very-high-carbon-steel is that the metal ends up extremely brittle, and flexes only a small bit before it breaks off clean. Ideally you want a metal to be extremely stiff, but still not shatter when it is flexed.

Makes a damn attractive wedding band, too. So light, I don’t even feel it on my hand.

I had cause to purchase a bar of Titanium a few years ago, to make an armature for my new Steadicam vest. Bending it was an amusing exercise. My machinist didn’t have the ability to bend it. The bar was 24 inches long, 5/8 inches thick and 3 inches wide.

I got it into my head that slow and powerful would work, so I took the bar to my local Meineke muffler shop. For the price of hot pizza for lunch, my guy set the bar into the piping bending machine ( which uses two armatures, moving in tandem against one slow ramming arm ), and we slowly bent it. For every 10 degrees it bent, it sprang back at least 1 degree. Worked like a charm.

My cousin the machinist and metallurgist offered a thought different than the one offered by the friend of Xema. I asked about heating it to help along the bending, and he cautioned against it. He claimed that Titanium became MORE brittle when heated. I did the bend cold. YMMV.


P.S. That bar stock cost me almost $ 500.00 USD. Pricey stuff. The armature didn’t work out, I now have an outrageously costly hunk of sculpture material to work with… :rolleyes:

The Russians built six (or seven) entire submarines out of titanium! The fast attack Alfa class was/is the fastest and deepest diving nuclear subs ever made. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it :)) they used a very powerful but unsafe liquid-metal-cooled reactor in them and several were lost.

Alfa is the UN designation. The Russian Navy nicknamed them Golden Fish because of their phenomenal expense.

They make the most amazing glasses frames you’ve ever worn.

The newest rimless titaniums weigh almost nothing. With high index lenses, it’s like not wearing glasses at all.

And if you’re a total klutz, you can’t break them unless you do something REALLY devistating to them.

My 4 year old Flexxons, which are a titanium blend nowhere near as light or flexible as the new generation ones have been sat on, twisted by small children and closed in a car door (one temple) and the frame still looks new. Oh, and I sleep in them all the time…

Well, plus the cost of the pizza.

I’m just curious how much the bar weighs, compared to a similar quantity of light steel.

ρ[sub]Fe[/sub] = 7,860 kgm[sup]-3[/sup]
ρ[sub]Ti[/sub] = 4,500 kgm[sup]-3[/sup]
ρ[sub]Fe[/sub] / ρ[sub]Ti[/sub] = 1.75
ρ[sub]Ti[/sub] / ρ[sub]Fe[/sub] = 0.57

Say…umm…can you post some good photos of what you have left? I might…make you an offer on it, if it’s the right shape/size. Not promising anything, just…interested.


Thank you all very much. I had no idea titanium was so strong and versitile. I have a few projects around that house that could use the versitility. The treehouse for instance…I wouldn’t mind titanium clasps for the ladder and/or for the support joints… Something to look into .

Oh and my lil’bro loves his titanium wedding band as well.

Titanium interstages and other miscellaneous parts that are ejected off of space launches out of Plesetsk end up littering the forests and tundra in northern Russia. I’ve read several articles by Pavel Felgenhauer that relate the interesting uses to which the locals put these pieces. For example, imagine using a broad, shallowly curved piece of rocket-skin to make a snow shovel. And these are people who REALLY need snow shovels!

I remember seeing an item in a silly catalog, a titanium hammer, the ad copy read “twice the mass at the same weight”. That’s almost an exact quote. I hope some copywriter got fired for that one.

Why anyone would want a titanium hammer, I still don’t know. Can’t think of any real advantages.

Titanium is also used in high performance tool coatings, Titanium Nitride (TiN), Titanium Carbo Nitride (TCN) and Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN).

As for the titanuim hammer, there is a distinct advantage from a marketing standpoint: people love titanium. You can neglect the fact that a hammer’s heft is what makes it effective because, HEY, it’s TITANIUM!!!

How about a titanium crowbar ?


The fight against ignorance continues.