Uses of Titanium
About 95% of titanium production is consumed in the form of titanium dioxide (TiO2), an intensely white permanent pigment with good covering power in paints, paper, toothpaste, and plastics. Paints made with titanium dioxide are excellent reflectors of infrared radiation and are therefore used extensively by astronomers and in exterior paints. It is also used in cement, in gemstones, and as a strengthening filler in paper. Recently, it has been put to use in air purifiers (as a filter coating) or in window film on buildings which when exposed to UV light (either solar or man-made) and moisture content in the air converts unfiltered air pollution into hydroxyl radicals.
Because of its high tensile strength (even at high temperatures), light weight, extraordinary corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand extreme temperatures, titanium alloys are used in aircraft, armour plating, naval ships, spacecraft and missiles. It is used in steel alloys to reduce grain size and as a deoxidizer, and in stainless steel to reduce carbon content. Titanium is often alloyed with aluminium (to refine grain size), vanadium, copper (to harden), iron, manganese, molybdenum and with other metals.
Welded titanium pipe is used in the chemical industry for its corrosion resistance and is seeing growing use in petroleum drilling, especially offshore, for its strength, light weight and corrosion resistance.
Titanium alloyed with vanadium is used in the outer skin of aircraft, fire walls, landing gear, and hydraulic tubing. An estimated 58 tons of the metal is used in the Boeing 777, 43 in the 747, 18 in the 737, 24 in the Airbus A340, 17 in the A330 and 12 in the A320, according to the 2004 annual report of the Titanium Metals Corporation. Generally, newer models use more and widebodies use the most. The A380 may use 77 tonnes, including about 10 or 11 tons in the engines.
Use of titanium in consumer products such as tennis racquets, golf clubs, bicycles, laboratory equipment, wedding bands, and laptop computers is becoming more common.
Due to excellent resistance to sea water, it is used to make propeller shafts and rigging and in the heat exchangers of desalination plants and in heater-chillers for salt water aquariums, and lately diver knives as well.
Owing to its strength and inertness to seawater, as well as its substantial ore deposits in Russia, it was the principal material used in the construction of many advanced Russian submarines, including deepest-diving military submarines to date, Alfa and Mike class, as well as Typhoon class.
It is used to produce relatively soft artificial gemstones.
Titanium tetrachloride (TiCl4), a colourless liquid, is used to iridize glass and because it fumes strongly in moist air it is also used to make smoke screens and in skywriting.
In addition to being a very important pigment, titanium dioxide is also used in sunscreens due to its resistance to UV.
Because it is considered to be physiologically inert, the metal is used in joint replacement implants such as hip ball and sockets and to make medical equipment and in pipe/tank lining in food processing. Since titanium is non-ferromagnetic, patients with titanium implants can be safely examined with magnetic resonance imaging (convenient for long-term implants).
Titanium is also used for the surgical instruments used in image-guided surgery.
Its inertness and ability to be attractively coloured makes it a popular metal for use in body piercing.
Titanium has the unusual ability to osseointegrate, enabling use in dental implants. This ability is also exploited by some orthopaedic implants. Orthopaedic applications also take advantage of titainium's lower modulus of elasticity to more closely match the modulus of the bone that such devices are intended to repair. As a result, skeletal loads are more evenly shared between bone and implant leading to a lower incidence of bone degredation from stress shielding and periprosthetic bone fractures which occur at the boundaries of orthopaedic implants which act as stress risers. However, titanium alloys' stiffness is still more than twice that of bone, eventually leading to joint degradation.
Titanium alloys are also used in spectacle frames. This results in a rather expensive, but highly durable and long lasting frame. Both traditional alloys and shape memory alloys find use in this application.
Many backpackers use titanium equipment, including cookware, eating utensils, lanterns and tent stakes. Though slightly more expensive than traditional steel or aluminium alternatives, these titanium products can be significantly lighter without compromising strength. Some would argue, however, that the thermal properties of titanium cookware make it unsuitable for serious culinary applications.
Titanium is increasingly used in lacrosse stick shafts.
Titanium is increasingly being used in cricket helmet grills.
Titanium may be anodised to produce various colours.