Is titanium strong?
We have seen buildings made of titanium, such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. We also know some aircraft parts are made of titanium, but is titanium really that strong?
Technically yes, we measure hardness with scales, but we can also observe in our shop that titanium is much harder than other metals such as aluminum or steel.
A scale is used to measure the hardness of the elements and is called the Moh scale. Values range from 0 to 10, with ten being the hardest. In this case, the hardest mineral we know of is diamond, with a ten on the Moh scale. Chromium (Cr - element 24) is the hardest metal on the Moh scale and has a 9 out of 10.
Iron, the most widely used metal in industry, construction, and general, has a hardness of 5, and pure titanium is a value of 6. As can be seen, it is the alloys themselves (steel or grade 5 titanium) that acquire greater hardness. Grade 5 Titanium is a mix of Titanium with Vanadium and Aluminum, making it a stronger metal than pure titanium, but not even close to the 9.5 level of tungsten carbide.
Besides, the titanium price is much higher than that of steel, but it is not more expensive due to its hardness. It is a costly material because obtaining pure titanium is very complex, and then there are also difficulties in transforming the titanium into sheets or bars.
Once the pure or alloyed titanium is obtained, the machining and conversion process to the final product is not easy either.
Titanium is one of the most valued metals by the aeronautical industry for its mechanical properties and in the medical sector for its biocompatibility with the human body. However, it is not often used in jewelry and everyday carry products due to its low malleability, high melting point, and machining difficulties.
Machines used to process titanium must be equipped with specific tools, with harder coatings to work this demanding material. We use a Nakamura-Tome lathe and mostly Iscar carbide tools when machining our titanium products.
Lathe and mill tools are more expensive than the common ones used for aluminum, brass, or copper, considered much softer metals. Sometimes even the best tools crash, and it hurts, haha.
Additionally, machining speeds for titanium alloys are lower than machining the same part in softer materials such as aluminum or brass. The longer manufacturing time makes the process more expensive because it takes more time to manufacture a part in titanium than, for example, aluminum.
In short, titanium is a harder material than the other metals we have processed, and we love making things out of titanium, even if it is one of the hardest metals you can find our days.