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6 Surprising Facts About Titanium

  • October 14, 2019
A picture of a sheet of titanium being fed into a machine.

Featuring the atomic number 22, titanium is a refractory metal that’s used extensively in the aerospace and manufacturing industries. Its strong and lightweight properties make it ideal for aerospace and manufacturing applications. Even if you’ve heard of titanium, though, there are probably some things about this metal that you don’t know.

#1) It’s Twice as Strong as Aluminum

When compared to aluminum, titanium is roughly twice as strong. For high-stress applications requiring a strong metal, there’s no substitution to titanium. While the strength of steel is on par with that of titanium, steel weighs about 45% more than its titanium counterpart.

#2) It’s Naturally Resistant to Corrosion

Not only is titanium strong and lightweight; it’s also naturally resistant to corrosion. When titanium is initially exposed to oxygen, it develops a thin layer of oxide, which acts to protect the rest of the metal from further corrosion. Some metalworking companies also add other metals to create titanium alloys with a superior level of protection against corrosion.

#3) It Doesn’t Occur Naturally

Contrary to popular belief, titanium doesn’t occur naturally. Rather, it’s found in minerals ructile, ilmenite and sphene. These minerals are harvested, after which the titanium is extracted.

#4) It’s Used for Medical Implants

Titanium is often used for medical implants because it’s rarely rejected by the human body. As explained in this Wikipedia article, it’s considered the most biocompatible metal in the world. Titanium is able to withstand the unique environments inside the human body. At the same time, it carries a lower risk of rejection than other metals used for medical implants.

#5) Only 0.63% of the Earth’s Crust Is Titanium

As the ninth-most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, titanium is relatively rare. Research shows the strong and lightweight metal only accounts for roughly 0.63% of the Earth’s crust. With such little titanium available, it costs more to harvest and produce than other metals. Of course, its unique properties — it’s strong, lightweight and naturally resistant to corrosion — make titanium well worth the investment for certain applications.

#6) It Has a High Melting Point

Titanium also have a high melting point. When heated, titanium won’t liquefy until it reaches 3,034 degrees Fahrenheit. To put that number into perspective, the melting point of aluminum is just 1,221 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the melting point of iron is 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit. With that said, titanium still has a lower melting point of tungsten. In its natural form, the melting point of tungsten is a stunning 6,192 degrees Fahrenheit.

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