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Titanium sponge: An overview of the material in terms of physical properties, grades, and applications

Author : Sunil Hebbalkar | Published Date : 2019-02-26 

In recent decades, the increasing involvement of the scientific community in the development of material science and technologies has led to the introduction of innovative material alternatives. These alternatives have apparently been gaining considerable popularity among prominent industries such as the aerospace, chemical, construction, and consumer electronics sectors. Titanium sponge is one such material alternative that has gained exceptional popularity lately and is used extensively across the aforementioned industrial sectors for manufacturing a huge number of critically designed products.

Technically speaking, titanium sponge is a brittle, porous form of titanium which has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio. Though its manufacturing process is costly, cumbersome, and complex, its preference percentage among many industries is rather high, owing to its excellent physical properties including high strength, corrosion resistance, and low density. In fact, it has been prominently used for developing airframes and aero-engine structures for commercial as well as military aircrafts. In addition, the product finds applications in missiles, rockets, and satellite launch vehicles. Some of the physical properties of titanium sponge that have been taken into consideration while categorizing its deployment across various applications are mentioned in the table below:

Table Number 1: Physical properties of titanium sponge

Sr. No.

Physical Property

Description

  1.  

Molecular weight

47.90 g/mol

2.

Apparent density

4.507 g/CC

3.

Melting point

1668?

4.

Boiling point

3260?

5.

Poisson ratio

0.32

6.

Thermal conductivity

9.41 cal/S - cm?

7.

Crystallography

Hexagonal structure

8.

Magnetic ordering

Paramagnetic

9.

Tensile Strength              

140 MPa

10.

Young's Modulus            

116 GPa

 

Unveiling how are the physical traits of titanium sponge are impacting its product quality and application

The strength of the pure titanium sponge is lower as compared to titanium alloy, which includes a composition of various other materials. As shown in Table number 1, the density of titanium alloy is between 4.507 g/CC – that is to say, it lies between that of steel and aluminum alloys, making titanium alloy-based parts several times lighter than steel-based parts and slightly higher in weight as compared to aluminum alloy-based parts. Speaking of the strength parameter, Ti-alloys witness two-fold high strength than Al-alloys and approximately similar strength to that of steel. Pertaining to the high yield stress values, Ti-alloys provide high stress-to-weight ratio resulting in the weight reduction of end-products. Quite overtly, on account of the benefits of weight reduction combined with high strength, these alloys are prominently preferred for weight saving applications across the aerospace, defense, and automotive industries.

In addition to the weight and strength parameters, the hexagonal crystal structure of titanium sponge has been also taken into consideration by industry experts, that holds quite some significance in the development of various grades of titanium. The grain size of every structure also depends on the time-temperature phase transformation which yields myriad grades of titanium alloys that could be used for several applications. As of now, the Ti 6Al-4V is one of the grades used for aerospace and defense applications, owing to its higher yield strength and lower weight.

Elaborating on the application spectrum of titanium alloys with regards to the aerospace and defense industry, it would be vital to mention that the product is robustly deployed to manufacture engines, space vehicles, missiles, coatings, and other critical structural parts. In fact, about 60% of titanium produced across the globe has been used for manufacturing aircraft frames and engines. Taking into account the extensive use of Ti-alloys for aerospace and defense applications, titanium sponge manufactures are planning to develop a widespread grade portfolio particularly catering to the aerospace domain. It has been observed that even leading aircraft manufacturers including Airbus and Boeing now give preference to aerospace grade titanium alloys to manufacture various engines components such as hydraulic system parts, compressor blades, nacelles, and rotors.

Despite its beneficial characteristics, one of the main concerns plaguing end-users is the high cost associated with the manufacturing of titanium alloy-based aerospace and defense products and the decreasing availability of raw material. In the traditional method of manufacturing, there could be chances of more wastage of raw material while developing products, as per certain observations. On that note, the recent development of additive manufacturing technique has proved to be a more productive and efficient manufacturing method, given that it has brought about an improvisation in fabrication processes and reduction in the wastage of material. This change has seemingly been creating a plethora of new opportunities for the contenders in aerospace & defense titanium sponge market.

With the utilization of new manufacturing technologies, prominent aerospace and defense industry participants currently aim to enhance the properties of titanium. It is quite obvious that the betterment of physical attributes in tandem with in-depth research and an industry-oriented innovative approach would increase the application scope of titanium material over the years ahead. Additive manufacturing technology has already begun to play a major role in the enhancement of fabrication and airframe manufacturing. Driven by the ever-growing deployment of this material, the demand for titanium sponge across myriad verticals is likely to observe a commendable upsurge in the years ahead.

About Author

Sunil Hebbalkar

Sunil Hebbalkar

Sunil Hebbalkar currently works as a content writer for fractovia.org and other portals. A post graduate in mechanical design engineering, he nurtures a passion for writing articles related to myriad industry verticals such as the technology, automotive, and healthcare sectors. When free, Sunil pursues his interest in cycling, reading, and sketching. He can be contacted at- [email protected] | https://twitter.com/HSuniel

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