Titanium is a popular transitional metal that is used in the manufacturing of many products including jewelry, surgical tools, tennis racks, and much more. It has the strength of steel at half the weight and is twice as strong as aluminum at only a little over 50% of the weight. These characteristics along with superior corrosion-resistance make titanium a highly sought after component for the creation of a countless number of products.
There are two different versions of titanium:
This is your guide to understanding the differences between Alpha-Beta Titanium and Commercially Pure Titanium, as well as learning how the use of both versions of titanium can help increase your bottom line.
Choosing the Best Titanium for Your Manufacturing Needs
When it comes to choosing the best titanium to fit your needs, there are a few different factors you must take into consideration. You first, have to make sure that the type chosen will fulfill the requirements to create a high-quality product. In many cases, such as the aerospace and medical industries, lives depend on it. The second factor is choosing titanium that will meet your needs while also being cost-effective. In other words, you do not want to pay more than you need to for a product that overshoots your needs. On the other hand, you do not want to waste money on titanium that doesn't meet all of your needs either. For many, Alpha-Beta titanium has all of the characteristics needed to ensure a quality product, while helping to keep production costs as low as possible.
What is Alpha-Beta Titanium?
Alpha-Beta titanium is an alloy (ti alloy), which is the combination of two or more metals. The outcome results in a product that is stronger than any of the parent elements. Titanium alloys are known to have two primary phases. These are the alpha and beta phases. These phases are further broken down into subcategories including Alpha, near-Alpha, Beta, near-Beta, and of course the one we are most interested in today, Alpha-Beta. It is the differences in orientations of the molecules in these phases that give titanium alloys unique properties. The Alpha-Beta phase is comprised of alpha and transformed beta molecules. It is important to note that Alpha-Beta titanium alloys co-exist and have the ability to be further processed to give an even more diverse set of properties that make this metal ideal for an array of applications across numerous industries. Alpha-Beta Titanium often contains alloying elements such as Aluminum or Vanadium and these lead to great corrosion resistance and use at high temperatures, making them great candidates for Aerospace applications.
The Properties of Alpha-Beta Phase Titanium
Alpha-Beta phase titanium has many attractive properties that make it highly sought after in the manufacturing industry. These include:
- Heat treatable
- High temperature creep strength is better than commercially pure titanium, but not quite as good as alpha titanium alloys
- Cold forming abilities may be limited
- Hot forming abilities are desirable
- Can be used in superplastic forming
The Front Runners of Alpha-Beta Phase Titanium Alloys
Up until recently, the most common Alpha-Beta phase titanium alloy has been Ti-6Al-4V, also known as Grade 5. This particular alloy, in addition to titanium, is comprised of 6% aluminum, 4% vanadium, and trace amounts of the element, iron. This Alpha-Beta phase titanium was dubbed as the "workhorse" of titanium and for good reason. It has excellent strength, compared to commercially pure titanium, but yet retains the stiffness and thermal properties that are so important. This alloy offers users the best of both worlds and gives it useful applications across several industries. It is most beneficial for industries that need a lightweight, heat-resistant, yet strong metal.
However, when choosing titanium alloys you should know about a less well-known Alpha-Beta phase titanium alloy known as Grade 9 or Ti-3-2.5 that is a superior metal right alongside Grade 5. Grade 9 is comprised of titanium, 3% aluminum, and 2.5% vanadium. It is much stronger than commercially pure titanium and easier to work with than Grade 5 due primarily to the fact that it can be worked cold. Other properties that lead to it being an easier alloy to work with is that Grade 9 provides good ductility, moderate strength, and superb resistance to corrosion. Both Alpha-Beta alloys are top-of-the-line, but if Grade 9 can accommodate your needs, it is much more cost-effective than Grade 5.
What are some other Alpha, Beta or Alpha-Beta Titanium Alloys?
- Titanium 15-3-3-3 (Ti 15-3) is a metastable beta titanium alloy
- Titanium 6-2-4-2 (Ti 624) is a near alpha titanium alloy
- Titanium Beta 21S (Ti 21s) is one of the beta titanium alloys developed as on oxidation resistant aerospace material
What applications does Alpha-Beta Titanium Alloys work well for?
Alpha-Beta alloys possess certain titanium properties that allow them to work well for the manufacturing of products across a variety of industries. The most common industries include chemical processing, aerospace, medical, and marine. Specific products that Alpha-Beta titanium alloys are used in include but are not limited to:
- Medical pacemakers
- Hydraulic tubing
- Aircraft turbines and structural honeycomb components
- Fasteners used in aerospace
- Engine parts
- Automotive parts
- Various sports equipment including golf clubs
As you can see Alpha-Beta titanium alloys, especially Grade 9 is a great way to provide the utmost quality to clients while trimming costs as much as possible compared to commercially pure titanium.
Titanium has widespread uses in aerospace, petrochemical and alloying not because of its rank ninth on the element’s abundance list, but because of its outstanding strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion.
There are 38 grades of titanium, with increases in grade numbers being inversely proportional to metal quality. Impurities can be removed from impure titanium, and other metals added to form the three groups of titanium alloys: Alpha, Beta and Alpha-Beta, where Alpha-Beta goes on to be the most used alloy.
What is Commercially Pure Titanium?
Commercially Pure Titanium is moderate strength titanium containing a minimum of 99% pure titanium. There are four commercially pure grades of Titanium, Grades 1-4. As where Alpha, Beta and Alpha-Beta Titanium Grades contain multiple alloying elements, Commercially Pure Titanium (Ti) is exactly what it sounds like, pure titanium and unalloyed aside from the less than 1% in chemistry changes between the four commercially pure grades.
What are some examples of Commercially Pure Titanium?
Unalloyed titanium (CP Ti) runs from grade one to four and consists of between 99.999% and 99% titanium. Grade five onwards fall into alloys of titanium.
- Grade 1 Titanium (Ti 35A) is the first of four commercially pure titanium grades. This grade has the greatest formability and is the most ductile.
- Grade 2 Titanium (Ti 40A) is a commercially pure grade slightly stronger than grade 1 but with similar corrosion resistance.
- Grade 3 Titanium (Ti 55A) offers slightly higher mechanical properties than grade 2.
- Grade 4 Titanium (75A) is the highest strength pure unalloyed titanium with high oxygen and extra high strength.
What are the common uses for Commercially Pure Titanium?
Commercially Pure Titanium (CP Ti) and most of its alloys have 60% the density of steel but maintain steel's strength. This combination of low density, strength and weldability characteristics creates multiple uses of titanium. CP Ti and its alloys also resist corrosion after exposure to severe conditions such as salty seawater giving it purpose in various industries.
The applications of CP Ti and its alloys may appear to overlap mainly uses in aerospace. But unalloyed titanium has uses in sophisticated components due to its formability while alloys have applications in strength-requiring parts.
Pure titanium has extensive uses in architecture, desalination, hydrocarbon processing, automotive components, surgical equipment, human implants and aerospace. The products made from pure titanium in these applications require high processability that alloys cannot provide.
However, in applications such as aerospace, alloys have uses in external airframes and turbines where durability and strength matter more than formability.
So Now Let’s Compare the Two Versions
What are the benefits of using Alpha-Beta Phase Titanium over Commercially Pure Titanium?
When it comes to choosing between Alpha-Beta phase titanium and commercially pure titanium, Alpha-Beta phase offers distinct advantages including:
- This type of titanium alloy may be heat treated in order to increase its overall strength.
- It is able to be used in welded construction at temperatures of up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Its high strength, yet lightweight properties combined with high corrosion resistance offer the ideal combination.
The main point of difference is that Alpha-Beta phase titanium alloys are much stronger than their pure counterparts. These types of titanium alloys also offer additional flexibility, malleability, weld, and increased fabrication potential. The ability to withstand heat treatments is certainly an added bonus of these alloys. Alpha-Beta phase alloys are able to bring all of these features to the table without having to sacrifice the stiffness and thermal properties of pure titanium. Grade 9 titanium, for example, contains strength somewhere in between commercially pure grade 4 titanium and grade 5 titanium, while being able to operate at higher temperatures than the commercially pure grades.
What does Commercially Pure Titanium bring to the table that Titanium Alloys do not?
Alternatively, the advantages of CP Ti over its alloys produced by heat treatment are significant but make quite a short list. Pure titanium grade is softer, has low metal density, is more ductile and is relatively formable compared to its alloys. Also, titanium plates, bars and rods — which are grades one, two and three respectively — have relatively higher corrosion resistance.
While alloys boast of malleability and high strength, unalloyed titanium boasts of flexibility, being weldable and formable, all characteristics not readily found on alloys. These features make CP Ti a superior candidate when making sophisticated components, and also give it numerous applications where alpha-beta titanium alloys would not qualify.
Generally, pure titanium has better processability compared to its alloys. Given its merits, pure titanium should apply on instances where there is a lot of material processing making ductility and weldability matter. On such cases, malleability and metal strength must not be of great essence. However, the lesser strength in CP Ti must not be confused with low durability. Pure titanium provides a long product life.
Now Let’s Look at Both Versions Together
What industries use both Alpha-Beta-Phase Titanium and Commercially Pure Titanium?
Here are industries that use CP Ti and its alpha-beta alloy in no particular order:
- Aerospace Industry: Aerospace applications of titanium are the oldest uses of the element. The metallurgical structure of titanium and its beta alloys gains preference by being light, durable and resistant.
- Petrol and chemical Industry: The resistance of titanium makes the petrochemical industry one of its most significant users. Titanium resists corrosion even by oxidizing acids, making it an ideal chemical equipment maker.
- Medical Industry: This industry benefits from the ability of titanium to resist reaction with human flesh and bones. Medics can, therefore, manufacture medical devices and implants usable on living organisms.
- Marine Industry: Marine equipment that spends much of their product life in waters benefit from titanium and alpha alloys as it provides years of service while actively effecting corrosion resistance caused by sea waters.
What are some of the most common applications for titanium?
In the above industries, titanium has many uses in:
- Airframes: Airplanes and stealth aircrafts require light bodies, with the ability to withstand harsh weather conditions — precisely what beta phase titanium (specifically Ti 6Al-4V) provides. Other applications of Ti alloys and pure titanium produced in continuous vacuum annealing are in aircraft turbines, aerospace fasteners, and other aircraft structural components. Weapons such as missiles and protective armor also employ titanium
- Engines: Engine components operating in high temperatures usually incorporate nickel-alloys. But nickel is heavy and unsuitable in, for example, jet engines. CP Ti and alpha-beta-phase titanium fill the gap by providing light components operating even at a beta transus (7000C to 10500C).
- Medical devices: Grade 23 titanium has numerous uses in the medical world. Orthopedic pins, cables and screws require titanium. Surgical equipment, including staples, springs, joint replaces, and bone fixers all employ the use of Ti 6AL-4V ELI, an alpha-beta titanium alloy.
- Power generating plants: Power plants require constant cooling. Titanium condensers can survive brackish waters as a cooling medium for years, something other tubing materials do not.
- Petroleum exploration pipes: Deep-sea exploration requires light pipes with the ability to weather the salty water in seas. Alpha phase titanium qualifies as the perfect candidates of such pipe's material.
What innovative ways are Alpha-Beta-Phase Titanium and Commercially Pure Titanium being used?
Titanium enthusiasts are pursuing innovative initiatives to give the metal new uses. Some intriguing new applications are in:
- Automotive: Racing bikes and high-performance cars are using titanium for engine parts, exhausts and springs. The cost is relatively higher, but the product life and performance are top of the game.
- Hard drives: Tradition computer hard drives use aluminum. Titanium provides an even better material given that it is light, and its non-magnetic properties make it not obstruct data storage.
- Composites: Titanium harbors excellent composite compatibility, making it a suitable component in metal matrix composites.
- Jewelry and frames of watches, clocks and glasses.
- Geothermal power plant components that operate in high temperatures.
- Unique surgical implants that allow continued bone and tissue growth.
And there you have it. If you are still wondering which version of titanium is right for your next project, feel free to contact us with your inquiry and our metallurgical staff would love to make your dream a reality.