Titanium Applications in the Aerospace Industry

September, 2015

The aerospace industry has been taking advantage of the benefits of titanium for decades, and as the extraction and processing costs continue to go down, more aircraft are expected to use this metal in their structures. The industry is constantly looking for new and better ways to design more fuel-efficient planes, and the characteristics of titanium provide the level of strength and durability they need without adding excess weight.

Why are they Choosing Titanium?
Several of titanium’s characteristics make it an ideal option for the aerospace industry, and more designs are incorporating titanium structures to provide greater strength and longer life cycles. Its qualities offer many benefits, including:

  • Weight-to-Strength Ratio – Titanium is much lighter than either steel or aluminum, providing the requisite strength without adding unneeded weight. This means that designers can save space and put aircraft up in the skies that are much more fuel efficient.
  • Corrosion Resistance – Titanium’s natural resistance to corrosives eliminates the need to spray it with special corrosion-resistant paints (except where the titanium comes into contact with other metals). The support structure under the galleys can be a very corrosive environment, but titanium can significantly extend the life of the frames and other components.
  • Thermal Expansion Rates – Titanium is extremely reliable at different temperatures, and it shares the same thermal expansion rates as a lot of other popular composite metals. This makes it a great interface material. Titanium is also a good replacement for aluminum in areas where the temperature is likely to run in the 130C range.

Until recently, the aerospace industry was using titanium instances but not as extensively as it could. However, the current rate of growth suggests that knowledge of the benefits is outweighing the perceived costs. Previously, the difficulties related to extraction and processing had a big impact on the cost of titanium, pushing it much higher than steel or aluminum. Now, though, low cost methods have been developed and it is much easier to harvest and make use of this common and strong metal.

Common Applications
The possible applications in the aerospace industry are varied, from the support structure of the airframe to forged wing structures to small, fasteners and other components. In general, though, titanium can be used in the compressor blades and wheels, stator blades, rotors, and other elements of a turbine engine. Beyond that, designers are using titanium in landing gears, ducting, internal sub-assemblies (internal wing structures link main spars or wing boxes), and anywhere heat resistance or weight and space rations are extremely important.