Common Titanium Markets and Uses for Titanium Strip and Wire Products

As one of the world’s most versatile metals, titanium is used in a wide variety of products. Its biocompatibility, strength and resistance to corrosion make it ideal for applications like medical implants and airplanes, and it’s lightweight and flexible enough to be used in sporting goods such as tennis rackets and golf clubs. Thanks to those properties titanium is also popular among engineers designing spacecraft where weight savings and flexibility are paramount.

Titanium strip and wire are available in a variety of types, grades, and alloys. If you’re looking for support and assistance in choosing the best material for your unique project, Ulbrich is happy to help explain the different types of titanium products that we offer.

Types of Titanium

Not all titanium is created equal. In its pure and unalloyed form, titanium metal is strong, malleable, and ductile. However, many common titanium markets and industries prefer a titanium alloy for their applications. Alloys provide the same strength as commercially pure titanium, but also take on additional properties that unalloyed titanium doesn’t have.

In order to choose the best precision metal for your project, it’s important to understand the different types of titanium so that you know your options and can make a well-informed decision.

Titanium Properties

Different Types of Titanium

There are two main types of titanium: commercially pure titanium and titanium alloys. Each of these types can be broken down into different grades and categories, and every grade involves specific characteristics and properties that will enhance the final product you are creating.

Is commercially pure titanium ideal for your project, or is a titanium alloy a better match? Let’s dive into the different types of titanium that are available.

Commercially Pure Titanium

As its name suggests, commercially pure titanium (also referred to as unalloyed titanium) only contains the natural element titanium. This is in contrast to titanium alloys, which contain other metals, elements, or chemicals such as aluminum, oxygen, or chlorine.

Commercially pure titanium is frequently used in applications such as architecture, medical and orthodontic equipment, and aerospace. Ulbrich works with four main grades of unalloyed titanium:

  • Grade 1 Titanium: As the softest grade of pure titanium, Grade 1 is highly ductile, making it ideal for buildings and surgical equipment.
  • Grade 2 Titanium: This grade is extremely malleable and is frequently used in the desalination process and to produce automotive parts.
  • Grade 3 Titanium: Because this type of commercially pure titanium is stronger than Grades 1 and 2, it’s often used in aerospace and marine applications. It has an excellent strength to weight ratio and corrosion resistance, but is less malleable than some other grades.
  • Grade 4 Titanium: This grade boasts high corrosion resistance but lower ductility than the other grades. The medical and aerospace industries use this grade for everything from airframe components to surgical hardware.

Although unalloyed titanium is perfect for many applications, some projects need their precision metals to embody additional characteristics. In those cases, strip or wire made of a titanium alloy might be the best choice.

Different Grades of Titanium Alloys

In addition to the different grades of commercially pure titanium metal, each titanium alloy is also categorized into a grade. One of the most popular grades frequently used in common titanium markets is titanium dioxide, which is a naturally occurring powder that comes from many plants and animals. It’s considered safe for human consumption and is added to products like candy, sunscreen, and toothpaste.

Although titanium dioxide is popular in several industries, it’s obviously not ideal for a strip or wire application. Here are a few of the titanium alloys that Ulbrich can produce into custom strip and wire for you:

  • Grade 5 Titanium (Ti-6-4), which is stronger than commercially pure titanium.
  • Titanium Alloy 15-3-3-3 (Timetal 15-3), which is much lighter weight than other engineering materials.
  • Titanium 6-2-4-2 (Timetal 6242), with good tensile strength and creep strength.
  • Titanium Beta 21 S (Timetal 21S), an ideal material for aerospace thanks to its oxidation resistance.
  • Grade 9 Titanium (Ti 3Al - 2.5V), which has great corrosion resistance.
    • Grade 9 is similar to grade 5 but it has half the vanadium and half the aluminum. Therefore, it is popular for those looking for similar properties to grade 5 but require coil form (strip) and are going to be cold working the material.

Basically, alloys keep the characteristics of the parent metal (in this case, titanium), and also reap the benefits of the additional components that are mixed in. This is just one of the main reasons why titanium alloys are so popular.

Metal 3d printed titanium objects

Titanium Alloy Uses and Benefits

While pure titanium is popular across many common titanium markets, many other industries prefer to work with titanium alloy. Depending on the type of alloy, the compound substance can have properties such as increased tensile strength, better stress corrosion resistance, and more resistance to high temperatures. There are several different types of titanium alloy, so you can choose the one that best suits your application.

Different Types of Titanium Alloys

Ulbrich works with three main types of titanium alloys:

  • Alpha alloys: These types of titanium alloys use an alpha stabilizer such as aluminum or oxygen. These compounds have a high degree of corrosion resistance and are not heat treatable, so they perform better in extreme cold rather than a high temperature environment. This makes them useful in the aerospace industry.
  • Beta alloys: Elements such as zirconium, manganese, iron, nickel, and copper are added in the beta phase to produce this titanium alloy. Beta alloys are heat treatable, strong, and malleable, and are frequently used in orthodontia and for surgical applications.
  • Alpha-beta alloys: Thanks to the addition of metals such as aluminum, vanadium, and iron, alpha-beta alloys are stronger than the parent metals. They perform well at high temperature and are very corrosion resistant and are often the preferred titanium alloy for everything from sporting equipment to titanium implants to jet engine components.

Thanks to the flexibility that these titanium alloys offer, they have almost countless uses across many industries.

Uses for Titanium Alloys

Pure titanium is one of the most versatile metals on Earth. When additional elements, metals, and chemicals are added to create a titanium alloy, it becomes even more useful in a wider variety of applications. Here are a few common titanium markets that consistently use titanium alloys to improve, strengthen, and enhance their products:

  • Medical applications such as pacemakers, needles, and titanium implants created by a 3D printing process.
  • Aviation and aerospace uses, including aircraft turbines and other engine and structural components.
  • Automotive components such as engine parts.
  • Chemical processing, including desalination and manufacturing.

These alloys are so common that there are likely items in your home that contain them. A lot of jewelry, bicycles, and mobile phones allow you to reap the benefits of titanium alloys every day.

Benefits of Titanium Alloys

Depending on the chemical makeup and ratio, each titanium alloy provides unique benefits. Different alloys will have characteristics like different tensile strength, corrosion resistance, weldability, malleability, and strength to weight ratio. Since titanium is inherently extremely strong, adding elements and chemicals to produce a titanium alloy only enhances the material’s usefulness.

In fact, some industries that traditionally used refractory metals have switched to titanium and titanium alloys. Metals such as molybdenum, niobium, rhenium, tantalum, and tungsten have valuable properties such as strength at room temperature, heat conductivity, and corrosion resistance. However, these metals are difficult to work with and are prone to damage when exposed to extremely high temperatures. Since titanium alloys are durable and perform well in high heat, moving away from refractory metal has been an easy decision for many commercial markets.

Titanium Markets - Medical/Surgical, Aerospace, Sporting Equipment

Commercial Markets for Titanium Strip and Wire Products

Titanium is used across many industries and is available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Its strength, weight, and versatility make it ideal for industries like medicine, orthodontia, automotive, aerospace, and jewelry.

Two of the most common titanium mill products are titanium strip and titanium wire, which Ulbrich can customize to meet the precise thickness and width that you need.

Common Commercial Uses for Titanium Strip

Both commercially pure titanium and titanium alloy can be engineered into strip form. The titanium sheet is cut to size and then cold rolled into coils using precision titanium equipment so that the strip meets your exact specifications. And because titanium strip is used in products that require precision and exactness, finely tuned equipment is vital.

Here are a few examples of common commercial uses for titanium strip to help you better understand why this precision is so important:

  • Titanium implants like pacemakers and neurostimulators
  • Heat exchangers, including shell and tube as well as plating models
  • Personal accessories such as jewelry and eyeglasses
  • High-end sporting equipment like golf clubs, tennis rackets, ice skates, and helmets

In some industries, there’s a debate over whether to use titanium or stainless steel for certain applications. Although titanium metal is more expensive than stainless steel, it’s also stronger in fluctuating temperatures and more lightweight. However, it’s also softer and more prone to scratches. Perhaps that’s why weight-sensitive applications such as the aerospace and medical industries gravitate toward titanium and damage-sensitive products like kitchen appliances and rail cars are better uses for stainless steel.

If titanium strip doesn’t quite meet your needs, custom rolled titanium wire might be a better fit.

Rolling Shaped Wire

Common Commercial Uses for Titanium Wire

Like titanium strip, titanium wire is often used in industries where even a millimeter of thickness or length could be the difference between a successful product and a disaster. In order to accommodate its customers, Ulbrich produces three main types of titanium wire:

  • Flat wire
  • Round wire
  • Shaped wire

All of our titanium wire is rolled with the tightest tolerances, so you can rest assured that you’ll get the best product available—and for the best price.

Choosing Titanium Strip and Wire

There are many different options available to you when it comes to titanium strip, titanium wire, and other precision metal products. Ulbrich can help you identify the right solution, down to the exact specifications and the best titanium grades to fit your needs. We are the experts and the global leader in precision metals, and we can help you determine when titanium strip or wire is the best choice.

When is Titanium Strip or Wire the Best Choice?

Very few metals are stronger and more durable than titanium. That’s one of the reasons titanium products like strip and wire are the top choices for industries and companies around the world. Here’s a quick comparison of titanium to other popular metals:

  • Steel: Although its strength is similar to titanium, steel is about twice as heavy. Titanium also has better temperature and corrosion resistance than steel.
  • Aluminum: Titanium is about twice as strong as aluminum.
  • Tungsten: Tungsten is very strong and dense but can be brittle and prone to shattering. Conversely, titanium has excellent tensile strength.
  • Copper: In addition to being much stronger than copper, titanium also has higher corrosion resistance.

When you need strong, durable strip or wire that holds up to temperature fluctuations, titanium is often the best choice. There are a couple of potential disadvantages to this metal, though, and it’s important to understand when titanium might not be the best choice.

Disadvantages of Using Titanium Strip or Wire

Titanium strip and wire are crucial components of many manufactured products. However, there are a few scenarios in which the Ulbrich team might suggest a different precision metal.

For example, titanium does not perform well in extreme heat. For projects that involve a high temperature of over 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit), a nickel-based alloy might be a better choice. Additionally, if your project requires casting, you might want to consider either a titanium alloy or a different metal such as aluminum or iron. Unalloyed titanium cannot be cast due to its oxygen content.

If you would like some guidance on alternatives to titanium strip or titanium wire products, just contact our team so that we can help you find the best product for your project.

Production of metal titanium

Alternatives to Titanium Strip and Wire Products

Titanium strip and wire are ideal metal products for many applications across many industries. However, it’s not suitable for all projects. In some cases, titanium foil as light as 0.0007″ is better than strip and wire. And in other cases, a different precision metal is better suited.

One particular alternative to titanium strip and wire is a nickel-based alloy, which can perform well at a very high temperature. Another option if you need an extremely hard metal is tungsten carbide. It’s harder than titanium and has high corrosion resistance. Just keep in mind that because tungsten carbide is so hard and dense, it cannot be bent into custom shapes.

Depending on the size of your project and the quantity of metal you require, our team might suggest stainless steel strip or wire as an alternative to titanium. Titanium can be expensive, and sometimes steel is a suitable substitute. However, titanium is superior to steel in several ways, so it’s not an equal swap. Here are a few categories in which titanium is better than steel:

  • Corrosion resistance
  • Temperature resistance
  • Weight, especially weight to strength ratio

Remember, Ulbrich is the expert in the precision metal industry, and we’re here to help! When you partner with us, you can rest assured that you’ll receive excellent service and phenomenal precision metal products.

Partner With the Metal Experts

From titanium strip to flat, round, or shaped titanium wire—custom rolled for anything from pacemakers to tennis rackets to a jet engine—Ulbrich Stainless Steel offers the products and solutions you and your customers need. Your products need to be precise and exact, and we have the technology, equipment, and expertise to help make your project a success.

Contact us to find out how we can help your ideas become a reality.

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