Titanium Applications in the Automotive Industry
The beneficial characteristics of titanium (lightweight, strong, corrosive resistant) would make it an appealing choice for many automotive application, yet because of the current processing and material costs, it hasn’t found the widespread adoption in this industry that it has in aerospace. However, as these costs continue to decrease, many manufactures are discovering that the long-term performance and life-cycle benefits are worth making the change.
In the current automotive industry, titanium is most commonly found in race cars or specialty vehicles. These cars are all about performance first, and they are willing to pay for it. The consumer market, on the other hand, is more cost conscious, and the benefits of titanium and its alloys is constantly measured against the potential increase in price. These manufacturers are required to meet certain regulations for safety and emission, but beyond that their focus is providing cost-effective vehicles to the mass market.
Until recently, titanium really wasn’t an option. Now, though, the processing and materials costs continue to decrease and the benefits are outweighing the potential costs.
Using Titanium in Cars
Using titanium components in a vehicle improves corrosion resistance, saves on weight and space, which in turn leads to more fuel savings. Engines can potentially last much longer, too, as they don’t have to work as hard under such a heavy load. Currently, uses are being developed in both the racing market and consumer industry that includes engines parts like connecting rods, valves and valve retainers, springs, and wrist pins. It can also be found in camshafts and rocker arms – anything that requires the durability and resistance to heat and corrosion that titanium offers.
What is the Potential?
A lot of progress is being made toward using more titanium in the automotive industry, and manufacturers are finding new, cost effective ways to take advantage of titanium components. Right now, the most common applications are cold wound springs and exhaust systems, but there is potential for it to be used in so much more. An all-titanium exhaust system, for example, could greatly reduce the weight of the vehicle and increase engine lifespan. Ideally, using more titanium will lead to better fuel economy, improved power train performance, reduced engine noise and vibrations, and extended life cycles.
As costs continue to come down, the potential for consumer-based applications will continue to evolve, making titanium an even more valuable alternative.