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Science

The Sexiest Metal 535

Posted by Hemos
from the strong-and-sexy dept.
jonerik writes "Denver's weekly Westword magazine has this article on titanium and the attempts to break it out of its traditional aerospace/defense industry niche, including its growing use in architecture, computers, jewelry, sports, knives, cars, medicine, and other areas. The upside: It's as strong as steel but weighs half as much, it doesn't rust, and it's fairly plentiful. The downside: It's expensive compared to steel and aluminum and its high melting point makes it difficult to work with under some conditions. Still, it's nice to see it being used in other applications." Heck, I know someone who used it as his wedding ring. Pretty cool, actually.
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The Sexiest Metal

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  • my TiPowerbook is sexy.

    Boo yah.

    Not for anything, but I get looks of envy everywhere I go. I love that computer.

  • The greatest thing about my titanium glasses is that some little part of me would survive re-entry should I fall off the space shuttle in the future!
    • Re:Titanium Glasses (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sacherjj (7595)
      I HAD to get titanium frames on my glasses, because my sweat is so acidic. The other glasses I used to wear when I worked out had some type of metal that was pulverized after one year of sweat exposure. The titanium looks just like new, after almost two years. Did I mention they are light. :)
    • Anyone know anywhere to find those Titanium Chopsticks they mentioned? There are some Snow Brand "Carry-on" Chopsticks that are part wood, and part brushed aluminum (dubbed titanium), but I haven't found any of the weapons grade Titanium chopsticks the guy talks about in the article, except on this Korean site that didn't actually sell anything.
  • by Flarners (458839) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @04:58PM (#3325464) Journal
    Titanium may be as strong as steel, but it's far easier to bend when cut thin. Anybody who has one of the titanium PowerBooks will attest to the fact that if you try to pick them up from one end, the thing will bend disturbingly. This is why you won't see titanium in kitchen sinks, silverware or anywhere else where the metal needs to be thin, strong, and unflexible. The only thing it has going over steel in these cases is buzzword compliance and price (if it's more expensive, it must be better!)
    • Considering that titanium has been used in mountainbike frames for at least 8 years, and in quite a thin layer, especially compared to the steel/cro-mo frames, and have proven themselves to be just as durable, you are quite wrong. I used to compete in mountainbiking, and I had a titanium frame. Me and another biker smashed into a rock at about 45km/h, with our bikes hitting the rock instead of us hitting it, and his alu 8005 frame got warped, his upper tube bending, while my titanium frame barely got scratched.
      • I don't know the properties of Ti off hand, but I think the original poster was trying to say it has good tensile strength relative to weight when compared to steel, but it doesn't have good sheering strength compared to steel. Your bike frame is made to distribute forces to act against the tensile strength and not the sheering string (cylindrical shapes, like on your bike tube, are good for this).
      • Yes the thickness and alloy have an effect, but the reason you can make a mountain bike and not a computer is a matter of shape. Circles, or even better, and probably what your mountain bike frame cross section would look like if you cut it, ellipses, are much stronger than a straight sheet.

        Take a sheet of paper, and hold it by the end. It flops over. Roll the paper into a circle, tape it, and hold it sideways. It stays out.

        I suspect that his bike had a circular cross section, while your more expensive titanium one had an elliptical cross section. Your frame was stronger because of that, and his broke.

        (mechanical engineer posing as a computer geek)
    • I have Titanium silverware.

      I got a set of Ti sporks, great for pasta and anything with rice or slippery seafood in it.
    • by dhovis (303725) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @06:11PM (#3326084)
      Oh Boy.

      Puts materials scientist hat on

      The TiBook is made from commertially-pure (CP) Titanium. This is basically an unalloyed grade and is very weak relative to the better 6-4 (6%Al-4%V) "aircraft grade" Titanium alloys.

      This is the thing. Apple chose Titanium more because it was sexy than anything else. You see a lot of things advertised as "Titanium", and often times the Titanium plays no important role in the product. There are some golf balls out there that has some Titanium in one of the resins close to the core, but the Ti is not in metal form, and is really only there in minute quantities.

      In fact, sometimes titanium overshadows everything else there. One of the responses mentions "Titanium" glasses frames that are very flexible. Those are not pure titanium. They are a 50-50 alloy of Titanium and Nickel. It is a "shape-memory alloy" which has the ability to deform easily by realigning the crystal structure when bent! and then shifting the crystal structure back when the stress is removed. They are way cooler than just titanium. They have been precision engineered to be superelastic.

      Titanium may be sexy, but it is not always the whole story. The marketing people often latch on to it, but as it becomes more common (and it will), it will start to lose it's allure. A large part of the cost of titanium is in refining it from the ore, and I've heard about a few developments that might bring it closer to the cost of aluminum in that respect.

      • Prehaps the tit in titanium makes it the reason why the marketing people latch on to it - just my tuppence.
      • Of course Apple used titanium because it was sexy. I've never seen Apple push their products any other way in the last 10 - 15 years. They show the fancy shapes, they show the neat transparent colors, and they push their machines because they are "different".

        Instead of showing me how its "sexy" and "different", their advertising should show me how its "better than a PC" and I might go buy one.

        Now, back on topic...

        I have a couple of pairs of eyeglasses with titanium frames. Most expensive frames I've ever bought. And the best damned frames I've ever bought. I'll never again buy frames made of anything else. They don't crack and turn funny colors like plastic frames, and they don't corode and turn my skin green like traditional nickel-based frames. And combined with nice modern polycarb lenses I bet they don't weigh a tenth of what traditional frames with glass lenses weigh.
      • by b_pretender (105284) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @07:15PM (#3326453)
        This is the thing. Apple chose Titanium more because it was sexy than anything else. You see a lot of things advertised as "Titanium", and often times the Titanium plays no important role in the product. There are some golf balls out there that has some Titanium in one of the resins close to the core, but the Ti is not in metal form, and is really only there in minute quantities.
        Titanium Dioxide, commonly referred to as rutile, is a form of titanium. This is commonly found in most white pigments and dies. Chances are, the white golf ball has rutile, and thus titanium, in the dyed plastic coating. Gold balls are usually white, and I wouldn't be surprised if most of them contained rutile.

        Kitchen sinks, stoves, refrigerator, bath tubs, many have a porcelain coating and rutile is the whiteness in the coating. Even your green stove has a white rutile base prior to adding green pigment.

        That being said, I agree that structurally, it would have been better to use steel or alluminum for the case of the PowerBook. However I own a powerBook, and, although flexible, I prefer it's titanium, although polished aluminum would be cool too.

        The coolest thing about titanium, that often get's looked over is its resiliancy. It makes it ideal for applications where steel and aluminum are useless. Look at bicycle frames, for example. Steel frames have been around for years and they have been optimized to be ultralight, strong, yet flexible enough for a comfortable ride. Aluminum came along, and although lighter than steel, it made for a rigid stiff frame and a toothshattering bike ride. The *design* of the aluminum frames could have been altered to allow for more resiliency, but the problem with aluminum is it fatigues and breaks if it flexes to much, so redesigning the frame to be more flexible was out of the question. Fortuneatly, suspension bicycles need a high stiffness in order to keep hinges/shocks/etc. lined up straight, so aluminum is ideal for this purpose.

        Titanium, although not as strong as steel and not as light as aluminum, offers resilience. The first Ti mountain bike frames were awful, built similar to their steel counterparts, and compared to riding a wet-noodle rather than a bicycle. Over the years, the design of Ti bikes has caught so that the frames are resilient in all of the right places, while still remaining sturdy in the other places. Some frames have even used this resilience as the suspension and put a damper/shock into the frame to allow for suspension travel and damping in a metal frame with NO hinges.

    • The only thing it has going over steel in these cases is buzzword compliance and price (if it's more expensive, it must be better!)

      Actually in the case of metals, the cost is usually related to how rare the metal is (i.e. how much higher demand is than supply), and/or how much it costs to form it (in the case of steel).
    • Uncoated and unalloyed metals are of limited use in general. A pure gold ring will fold quite easily if pressed between your fingers. It must be alloyed with Copper to make it reasonable.

      I find that people who don't use alloyed titanium and instead use pure or cheap alloys annoying, because sex appeal is not very important in a functional unit.

      As far as interesting metals go, Platinum and Iridium are far more interesting and "sexy". Iridium makes radiant salt and complexes, and both of these metals are very "noble," resisting tarnish. I would think a titanium ring for a wedding band as a trite piece of junk personally.

      I have personally seen a forged iridium platinum ring. It was striking. Far better than gold, I think.

      There is also an alloy of steel and gold, gold steel, which is a very curious blue color.
      [tms.org]
      Alloys are an awesome field, I recently read an article about Damascus steel, and that it has *finally* been recreated.

      I think that the statement that Titanium is the sexiest metal is the furthest thing from the truth - its interesting, its useful, but not sexy. Unless the Russians have recently began to set the sex appeal standard in the world ;p.

      Note that the Alfa class subs the Russians use are able to go several times deeper than a Seawolf class. The Alfas are made from titanium and can go over 4,000 feet deep.

      I have provided a link FAS, which shows the real world implications of Titanium and Steel strength. This is also manifested in that fact that because the Russians have a plethora of Titanium, they are able to make cobra-maneuver capable jets like the MiG-29 and Su-27, Su-37, Su-everything, . Titanium is not for sex appeal, its for strength when alloyed with the right things. Even though the Russian planes are more acrobatically capable, Avionics, JSTARS, and AWACS makes the dog fighting concept almost entirely obsolete in modern warfare.


      [fas.org]
      A submarine's hull is normally constructed of steel, or exceptionally of titanium. Special High Yield [HY] steel alloys have been developed to increase the diving depth of submarines, although the improved depth performance of these alloys imposes a price of increased fabrication challenges. These special steels are denominated by their yield stress in thousands of pounds per square inch -- thus HY-80 steel has a yield stress of 80,000 pounds per square inch [corresponding to a depth of 1,800 feet], HY-100 a a yield stress of 100,000 pounds per square inch [corresponding to a depth of 2,250 feet], and so on.

      During World War II, American fleet submarines normally operated at a depth of 200 feet, though in emergencies they would dive to a depth of 400 feet.
      Post-War American submarines, both conventional and nuclear, had improved designs and were constructed of improved materials [the equivalent of "HY-42"]. These boats had normal operating depths of some 700 feet, and a crush depth of 1100 feet.
      The Thresher, the first American submarine constructed of HY-80 steel, reportedly had a normal operating depth of 1,300 feet, roughly two-thirds the crush depth limit imposed by the HY-80 steel.
      The Seawolf, the first American submarine constructed of HY-100 steel, is officially claimed by the Navy to have a normal operating depth of "greater than 800 feet," but based on the reported operating depth of the Thresher, it may be assumed that the normally operating depth of the Seawolf is roughly double the official figure.
      The Soviet Alfa submarines, constructed of titanium, reportedly had an operating depth of nearly 4,000 feet
      .



      Baxter.
  • Sexier (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Beliskner (566513)
    A sexier metal is Selenium. Runner up is Elerium-115 [abovetopsecret.com]
    • Elerium is also VERY profitable when you need one more base to interdict those nasty harvesters and what not. Nothing cuts into your funding faster than failing to stop a terror mission. MUCH cooler than zbrite.
  • Steel Tarrifs (Score:2, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269)
    Since George Bush imposed a steel tarriff, and domestic producers have raised their prices, titanium is somewhat more attractive. Of course if it becomes too attractive, look for steelers to be lobbying for titanium taxes.
  • My watch is titanium..nice and light. My car was the first to use titanium exhaust for weight reduction too. But yeah, it's expensive. Aftermarket Ti exhaust on cars costs $2K against normal exhaust for $800.
  • The downside: It's expensive compared to steel and aluminum and its high melting point makes it difficult to work with under some conditions.

    Hey, sexy is always expensive and difficult to get to work...At least it is for me.
  • I would enjoy the fact knowing that if my body was to re-enter the atmosphere, my wedding band would survive.
  • Ti wedding rings (Score:3, Interesting)

    by farnham (160656) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:01PM (#3325492)
    www.tirings.com carries some great rings. They seem to be the only ones making highly polished ti rings. I'm hoping my fiancee gices me the go-ahead to get one. She unfortunatley has a hang-up about our rings not matching.
    I think the blue titanium oxide looks great. I have questions about the oxides durability in the long run. Fortunatley I don't have to think about the rings durability.
    Does anyone out there have one of these?
    • I also recommend metalsmiths.com. They do some great work and they do have titanium rings. We got an engagement ring and two wedding bands from them and they were very well done and reasonably priced. My wedding band was titanium with a stripe of gold and my wife's was platinum (and the engagement ring was platinum with an emerald).

      The one caveat I would say is that they do sometimes take a while since it is a small operation, so if you are planning to meet a specific timeline order well in advance.
    • I have been looking for a new ring for my wife as a gift for are anniversary. Every Jewlery store I've gone into offers titanium rings of some sort.
      Nice ones to, not those "rings" that are just cut from a piects of titanium pipe and polished.
    • It'll hold up well. We've been using it in Jewellery for about twenty years, and haven't had a problem. The only downside to a Ti wedding band is that you're hooped f you need it sized.....Stuff burns like magnesium when you try to solder it in oxygen.....
  • I inscribed my wife's initials into it as binary. Just a lot of silver-inscribed dots and lines, no one knows it's binary unless I tell them, and then it's a lot of "umm, ok..."

    No not ascii, there wasn't enough room for 7 or 8 bits each. 5 bits, for 15 dots/dashes. Got my ring from this site [rennlist.com] (of COURSE I ordered it through the web ;)
  • I shattered my wrist a couple years ago, and theybolted a titanium plate to the bone in my wrist. The doctors said it is supposed to stay inside me for the rest of my life. They explained that the lightweight metal was especially well-suited for this purpose, because of it's strength/weight ratio.
    My only complaint is it aches after a hot shower or bath, anyone have any scientific reason for why this would be?
  • My glasses [opticaleffects.com] are pure titanium! (the frame, not the glass..duh)

    AND they don't have any screws...they're almost indestructible (that is why I wanted 'em...I'm accident prone).

    + they're super light and they look real good! :)
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:02PM (#3325501) Homepage Journal

    If you haven't been married for long you probably don't know that sometimes, when people gain weight, the rings start to become, uh, constrictive.

    With a traditional soft gold alloy you can snip the tight ring with a pair of bolt cutters or even wire cutters for thinner gauge rings.

    With titanium, I don't think you'd have such an easy time removing a stuck ring. A cutting torch is not going to leave much of a finger and using a diamond saw, too, could be real tricky with in vivo parts involved.

    Get ready for gangreme to set in, unless you lose a bunch of weight in a hurry or find a good lubricant.

    • when people gain weight, the rings start to become, uh, constrictive.

      Cool. An insurance policy I can take out on my wife!
    • by Tekmage (17375)
      Just a followup to this. If/when you get a Ti ring, get in the habit of taking it off at night so it doesn't get stuck.

      My wife got my a Ti-Au combo ring for X-mas; I wear it on my right middle-finger. :-)
      • IANAJ (I am not a jeweller) but what happened to good old soap and water? :)
    • by ek_adam (442283) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:17PM (#3325641) Homepage
      With titanium, I don't think you'd have such an easy time removing a stuck ring. A cutting torch is not going to leave much of a finger and using a diamond saw, too, could be real tricky with in vivo parts involved.
      Forget power tools, just be patient with a small hand file.
    • Yeah, I don't think I trust myself enough with my dremel to perform a emergency ring removal.
      It'd turn into a finger removal for sure.
    • Re:Ti Wedding Ring? (Score:3, Informative)

      by CodeShark (17400)
      Tell me about it. I have a titanium & gold wedding ring, which I nowwear on a pendant around my neck now.

      It took an injury to my left hand with a circular saw -- and a nurse who pulled the ring off while I was unconscious -- so that they could put about 10 stitches in that finger (not counting the 70 or so inside and out on my index and middle fingers) to convince me that Ti Wedding rings are *NOT* a good idea.

    • by swb (14022)
      My dad had to have his ring resized back in the late 70s and I went with him to the jewelers. His ring finger had swollen substantially over time and his ring had become quite uncomfortable.

      To remove it the jeweler had a tool with a flat bit that slid between the ring and the finger and had a cutting wheel (like a dremel cutting disk) that cut through the ring. The bit that slid under the ring was aligned with the cutting wheel so that when you went through the ring you didn't start cutting flesh.

      The ring was then resized and re-fused to be a continuous ring. I'd guess that cutting is a last resort and that cut rings might have been resized by actually adding material to make them bigger rather than just stretching them.

      IIRC the cutting part was hand actuated, but with the safety "backstop" I see no reason other than heat that it couldn't be mechanically operated.
  • "soft"? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Roadmaster (96317)
    Watches are some of the most common consumer goods available in titanium. Citizen is the largest titanium watch maker in the world.

    A concern with titanium watches is that, while they're light and strong, they also tend to scratch more easily than steel. This is a concern because in time a titanium watch will look more battered than a stainless steel one. Citizen actually claims to have a process to reduce titanium's "softness" (can't recall if it's an alloy or a special coating), thus reducing this problem.
    • Re:"soft"? (Score:3, Informative)

      by morcheeba (260908)
      I've had two titanium watches....

      The first was a Wittnauer (I don't think they make it anymore). It was unfinished titanium, and got a lot of scratches during the year and a half that I wore it (it has a 10-year pacemaker battery!)

      The second one is a ventura [ventura.ch] v-matic [ventura.ch] watch, and it's had the honor of being on my wrist for 3 years. Usually I get bored of watches, or they get scratched, so that's quite a feat! This watch has a special nitrogen coating that seems unique to ventura (I'd love to see it on non-watch products). The surface has been hardened to the hardness of saphire. Saphire is just below diamond on the hardness scale, and, yes, it scratchs glass. The watch is absolutely scratchless. It has a small ding (.5mm dia) that occured in a hangglider emergency landing (although "survived a plane crash" sounds much sexier!). But, the ding is exactly that - not a scratch. Since only the surface is hardend, the material is still soft underneath and can be dented.

      Although the watch is big (pure mechanical, automatic winder), it's still light. As an engineer, I love the see-through back!! Check out the 3d viewer of it [ventura.ch].

      It's a bit spendy, but most of the price is the mechanicals inside. Ok, a good chunk (1/5-2/3) is to the retailer, but most of the manufacturing cost is probably labor.
  • soviet relics (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kharchenko (303729) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:03PM (#3325511)
    Back in USSR, for a given quantity of alchohol, you could get pretty neat titanium ware. We had titanium hiking gear such as ovens, climbing hooks, portable shovels, etc. They were considerably better in most ways. Later, in the mid-90s, some "businessmen" were selling bike frames made out of pure titanum. A friend of mine still rides one of those - doesn't rust and very light.
    • Actually, titanium bicycles are quite common. There are dozens of manufacturers (lightspeed among the most common) who specialize in titanium. It has been done since the early 80s, but it has always had a premium on price.

      The reason for this material on a bike frame is to keep weight low and to reduce road vibration. The material is also holds up well in crashes and since it doesn't oxidize it requires no paint and you can ride in the rain without concern.

      Personally I think that carbon fiber is the ultimate material for bicycle frames, but variety is good.

    • titanium hiking gear such as ovens

      They sell it at REI [rei.com]. It's nice and light for backpacking, but pricey.

      I bet it took more than one bottle of good vodka to get a set in the old days.

    • pure titanum [sic] is not as stong as the titanium alloy with 6% Aluminum and 4% Vanadium. This is what's usually used when Ti is used as a lighter alternative to steel.

      http://www.ushba.com/tifacts.html [ushba.com]

  • I finally got a new Seiko watch about a year ago, a simple analog kinetic model with a titanium band. Previously I've worn a big heavy steel-bracelet model.

    Price and 'sexiness' aside, there are some real advantages to titanium watch bands. All of the strength of a steel band, at a fraction of the weight. I've also noticed that this watch doesn't feel as cold in winter.

    I find that Plastic bands do not last, leather bands get sweaty. IMHO, a metal band with a good fit (not too tight, not too loose) works best for me, and they last forever with only minor scratches.

    One drawback -- the dull "grayish" hued TI shows scratches more than my old (shiny steel) band. I like the less flashy look (compared to steel) and the lower weight... I've had plastic "sports watches" that weigh more.

  • by totallygeek (263191) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:05PM (#3325525) Homepage
    Be careful about using titanium for your wedding rings (or any ring for that matter). The ring cannot be resized, and is fairly-much useless if your finger grows or shrinks.

  • Where the aerospace industry is described in such a way,

    "While titanium has its fans, it's still not clear if the metal can break out of the aerospace ghetto..."

    .
  • When I received my order of the engineer ring [ironring.ca], one of the speakers mentioned that it's a very good idea to remove the ring while working with machinery, even moreso than with normal jewelry. The stainless steel is much less likely to break than a gold ring, and thus that much more likely to pull your finger off in an industrial accident.

    Then again, a titanium ring helped that dude in "The Abyss", so maybe it has advantages, too.

  • At first I thought the headline was "The Sexist Metal"! When I started reading about aerospace and defence I started wondering if some militant feminist groups had started going after titanium!
  • Ti is also what was used to cover the new guggenheim in bilbao, spain [guggenheim-bilbao.es]. Frank Gehry is a genius. originally he was going to use stainless steel. but it didn't catch the light quite the right way. then he saw titanium and was sold. he was worried that it costs 2x as much as stainless, but it was ok because it only had to be 1/2 as thick.

    i love the total lack of right angles in that building. simply beautiful.
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:09PM (#3325568) Homepage
    My wife and I got married back on March 24, and we are both wearing excellent titanium rings from www.boonerings.com.

    My ring is styled after Ed Harris's ring from The Abyss, and my wife has a pair of helix rings, one that holds a diamond through tension in a spectacular manner not possible with softer metals.

    See: http://www.boonerings.com/large/helixxlite.htm

    In regards to safety, Titanium rings can be easilly removed using cutting tools present in most ERs.
  • by Veramocor (262800)
    Titanium is actually a very reactive metal even more so than Iron.

    Fe = -.440
    Ti= -1.63

    Titaniums corrosion resistance is actually confered to it by the formation of titanium dioxide scales, TiO2 (same stuff in toothpastes go ahead look), the layer slows down the diffusion of oxygen and other oxideizers to the surface of the metal. Much like Chromium does in stainless steel (Cr2O3).

    Is Titanium then the best metal for all corrosive environments? Hell no! Its protection is based on the thermodynamic stability of its scales.

    Put your nice shiny new Titanium in a highly oxidizing and basic environment (look up Pourbaix diagrams if you want more info). Kiss it goodbye. While plain carbon steel would have resisted it since its scales are stable in that environment and a lot cheaper to. Had you used titanium for your reactor thinking it was the best, you my friend would have been fired.

    The moral of the story, there is no one good metal for all applications. You need to consider many factors not to least mention cost.

    • This is why, in fact, that welding Titanium (for things like bike frames) is extremely expensive. Titanium must be welded in the presence of a noble gas, otherwise your welds are ruined.

      It IS possible, as well, for the titanium parts that they use in joint replacements to react with other things. While it's extremely rare, I've heard of one case of a woman whose hip corroded slightly, and formed a mean-ass titanium-acid substance that caused her great discomfort.

      Here are some links to beatiful titanium bike makers:

      http://www.merlinbike.com/
      http://www.litespeed .com/
      http://www.sevencycles.com/Main.html

      It'll be the last bike you buy. Not only will it last forever, but it'll probably bankrupt you, too. :)
  • If Titanium is plentiful, then why is it so blasted expensive? It can't be solely because it's hard to work with, can it? Is it expensive because it's currently only used for "special" applications? If we start using it more, will the cost go down?
    • Takes a lot of energy to refine.
    • If Titanium is plentiful, then why is it so blasted expensive?

      According to the Westword article, the extraction process is expensive. From the article:

      The complexity of the manufacturing process is usually blamed for the metal's high cost.

      "They need to find a cheaper way to extract it from the ore," says Ken Gall, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "It would mark a large technical advance if that process could be improved."

      One of Timet's competitors invested millions in a new production process that was supposed to cut costs, says Martin, but it was unsuccessful. Research on cheaper ways to create titanium is under way in Europe, but he isn't expecting any dramatic change.

      "There's no breakthrough at hand," Martin says. "There are a lot of obstacles to overcome."

    • There was an article on /. a while back on the potential of cheaper Titanium, "Titanium As Cheap As Aluminum?" [slashdot.org]

      I wonder if there's been any progress since then. The original story [economist.com] is still on The Economist' site.
  • Check out :

    http://www.science.co.il/PTelements.asp?s=Earth

    Although abundance doesn't necessarily mean it's easy to get to, or does it ?

    There was an article in WSJ a while back which basically said that if Ti could be more easily extracted, it would take over steel. Apparently it's hard to get the metal out purely.

    Obviously that's not true for TiO2 which is used as white pigment in darn near everything.

  • Wearing a ti ring is bad if you ever get injured and your finger swells. Most ER's are not capable of cutting through ti and as a result, you could be in a lot of trouble if you ever need to have it taken off.

  • Many in my family were "blessed" with acidy sweat/skin. This means that any watch we buy aside from all plastic or all titanium will have it's mechanism eroded in a matter of weeks or months (depending on person). One clockmaker even asked if we dipped a 6 month old designer watch into the ocean for a day or 2... Anyway, with Titanium watches my brother has had the same (very expensive) watch for 3 years now. Since Plastic only goes so far, I bought Ti this year too (although w/ leather strap, but even the strap clasp is Ti). It's light and reliable - what more could we ask for?
  • Various companies have been making Titanium ice screws for about 11 years now.

    Lighter than Cr/Mo and rustproof, take more wear and tear then Al, and stronger, all things equal, than either one.

    See for example. [ushba.com]
  • ...when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

    http://www.snowpeak.com/gear/sct004.html

    Ah, the titanium spork - a glimpse of the sacred within the profane.

    Seriously, i trust the spork - I don't trust many of the titanium bike builders out there - do it right (Tom Kellogg) and you have a dream to ride. Do it wrong, and you've got something that will leave you cursing technology and send you right back to your trusty CroMo or Aluminum steed. And it's very very easy to do it wrong.
  • Titanium has seen more and more use over the past decade in body piercing as well. While it is just as strong as 316LVM (Implant Grade) Steel, it does not contain nickel either. People who have numerous and/or severe nickel allergies can be safely pierced thanks largely in part to Titanium (and Niobium as well).

    The lighter weight of titanium is another highly-touted feature of the metal in body piercing. Once the piercing goes past a certain point in terms of size, called gauges [bmezine.com], weight can become extremely prohibitive for successful healing. Titanium solves a lot of those problems, and allows people to easily start piercings at sizes like 2 gauge (1/4") without having the weight be problematic. I know several men and women who both swear by titanium in their bodies, and will never go back to another metal.
  • While Titanium is actually a very common element of the Earth's crust, working on titanium metal is major problem, to say the least.

    This was what Lockheed discovered when they built what became the famous A-12/YF-12/SR-71A Blackbird using titanium structural parts. Cutting the metal was a major problem, you couldn't use tools with cadmium as part of the metal alloy to work on titanium, and manufacturing large quantities of quality titanium metal was very hard, too.

    Even today, titanium alloys are still way too expensive to make compared to modern steel and aluminum alloys. That's why golf clubs with titanium alloy shafts cost over US$400 per club, and also the reason why for commercial airliners titanium alloys are used only in areas where high temperature resistance is needed (e.g., jet engine nacelles).

    Besides, the rapid development of epoxy-resin and graphite composites in the last 30 years has reduced the need to use titanium alloys for lighter airplane structures, especially for private and commercial planes. Even though composites are a bit more expensive than stainless steel or aluminum alloys they're still way less expensive than titanium alloys.
  • Titanium has been used in high-end bicycles for some time. Litespeed and Merlin are the two big original manufacturers, although some others have come on board. Ti's pretty hard to work, though, so Joe's Bike Shop and Espresso isn't going to be able to buy the kit necessary to work it.

    Litespeed cold works [litespeed.com] a lot of their tubing, which they say creates a stronger tube. They make some breath-taking [litespeed.com] bikes [litespeed.com]. And they're breath-takingly expensive, too, believe me.

    For some time now people have been arguing the relative benefits of different bike materials. For most of bike history it was steel, but steel's heavy, plus it rusts. You're lucky to get a steel frame under 5 pounds. Some people still swear by the loose feel of a steel bike, but steel is on its way out. Because it's so damn heavy you can't make a really stiff bike from steel - tube stiffness squares as diameter doubles.

    This is a win for aluminum, and the reason Cannondale can make such fat [cannondale.com]-tube [cannondale.com] aluminum bikes. The Litespeed Blade [litespeed.com] (Ti) has skinny, horizontally stiff and very aero tubing, but it's not so laterally stiff. Let me tell you, when you weigh 220 and you really pound on the pedals, you appreciate the extra width of aluminum tubing. Some people think it's too stiff, though. A nice aluminum frame (like mine, even if it's a few years old) can weigh 2.75 pounds. Unreal.

    Carbon fiber has gotten big lately, too. Tell me this [kestrel-usa.com] doesn't make your mouth water. That's right - it's got no seat tube. No way can you do that with any metal. Carbon's frighteningly light, but fragile - little scratches really build up and can adversly affect the frame. If you T-bone a carbon bike, one of two things will happen: (a) nothing, (b) you're walking home carrying $2,500 worth of plastic. Trek makes a lot of carbon bikes, including the one [trekbikes.com] Lance Armstrong has been dominating the Tour with. That frame weighs 2.25 pounds.

    Trouble is, the start-up cost for a carbon bike fab is astronomical - higher than any other material. If you want a custom frame, you're likely SOL. This is where Ti shines - custom frames are almost as easy as steel.

    Thus endeth the lesson :)
  • I wonder if using Titanium instead of steel in the World Trade Center would have saved some lives? They say the main reason the towers collapsed was the heat from the buring jet fuel destabilizing the steel. The steel weakened and could no longer support the potential energy from the floors above.

    Now titanium they say has a higher temperature resistance, as well as weighing half as much as steel. That means that there would have been more time before the towers collapsed (if at all) for them to evacuate people.

    Just a thought...

    --Jon
  • by WhaDaYaKnow (563683) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @05:29PM (#3325778)
    Yeah, we got titanium rings [titaniumera.com] for our wedding.

    It had 'platinum' inlays. After a couple of days my wife got a rash. Now, she wears a titanium watch all the time, so she's not alergic to that. She also has been wearing the platinum engagement ring for several months, so she's not alergic to that either. She is however alergic to tons of other metals, like white gold (or the nickel they use in it).

    When she contacted the company, all they said was, ok, return them, insisting that it was real titanium & platinum. To be fair,- they did refund us promptly, but the ease at which they did it makes me suspicious.

    What I'm trying to say is, how do you know for sure that things are actually made of the material you are paying for? I guess especially when you buy stuff online it's pretty risky.

    And it kind of sucks to have to return your wedding rings :(.
  • ad [kitchen-classics.com] ad [macys.com] safety discussion [backcountry.net]
  • Welding? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by markmoss (301064) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @06:01PM (#3325998)
    Anyone here welded titanium? I wasn't a welder in the Air Force, and it was a long, long time ago, but IIRC the metal shop had to drag out all sorts of gear if welding Ti was necessary. I think you have to flood the weld area with nitrogen because its ignition temperature in air is lower than the melting temperature. Of course, you need something much hotter than the normal welding torch. Then you get the weld done and need to grind down the excess bead -- and as hard as Ti is, that's going to take some time.

    But it's mighty durable once it's together.
  • ... with iron oxide strips on them. Oh wait, it's really just plastic. :)
  • Cheap titanium (Score:2, Informative)

    by naoursla (99850)
    I remember reading in Science News a few months back that a new process for reclaiming Ti from oxide compounds was discovered. Ti is one of the more abundant elements on the planet, but most of it is in a form that makes it unusable for metal products. The article predicted that it would be used for all sorts of things very soon (like car frames).
  • But it's actually aluminum that reigns supreme for enhancing sexiness. Any fool who has downed a six-pack of aluminum beer cans will tell you how much sexier (and even younger) the babes in the local tavern get with each aluminum pull-tab.
  • This titanium wedding band thing has fad written all over it, get some balls, buy platinum, don't cheap out with the titanium, and don't bother replying saying that platinum dulls, already know that.

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Thursday April 11, 2002 @10:48PM (#3327344) Homepage Journal
    One other neat application of Ti is TiO2 coating glass and other surfaces. The TiO2, when exposed to UV light (like sunlight) causes a catalytic reaction oxidizing anything on the surface.

    Car windows treated with TiO2 on the outside would literally burn off the gunk that gets on them (insects, bird splats, hydrocarbon grunge) in the sunlight, staying clean.

    There has even been talk of using this in medical surfaces (exam tables and O.R.s) - when you are done, flood the area with some UV and burn the microbes off the surface.
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=TiO 2+UV+surfa ce+treatment">here's a link to some pages on Google.

    a href="

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