Rapid prototyping in manufacturing involves many processes such as CNC machining, 3D printing, and injection molding. Selecting any of the processes above depends on many factors, of which the material/workpiece plays a huge role. Of the many materials suitable for rapid prototyping, titanium material is a popular one due to its unique properties.
Titanium material is popular for its unique mechanical properties and functions. For example, it is important in the aerospace industry for its durability, lightweight, and strength. However, there are many grades of titanium you will work with. Therefore, choosing a titanium material for your project might be a little challenging. Consequently, you might end up choosing the wrong titanium grade for the right job and vice versa. To help you avoid this, this article will act as a titanium alloy guide as it introduces titanium material, its properties, its use in rapid prototyping, and how to select the right grade. Let’s dive in.
Titanium in Manufacturing Industries
Titanium is a material used in the manufacturing of products due to its unique mechanical properties. It is an element with the atomic number 22 found in the earth crust as rutile and ilmenite and is said to make up 24% of the earth’s crust. Consequently, titanium is the 9th most abundant material on Earth.
Properties of Titanium
Titanium material has unique properties making it suitable for a variety of uses. Common properties include immense strength, lightweight, anti-corrosion factor. Below are the unique properties of titanium material and its alloys that make them suitable for rapid prototyping.
· High Strength-to-Density Ratio
Titanium material and its alloys have a high strength-to-density ratio. This means that it has high strength while being lightweight. Consequently, titanium material and its alloys are suitable for making products with different applications. For example, this property embodies a high structural efficiency needed in the aerospace industry
· Anti-Corrosion and Anti-rust Property
Titanium is a popular material used in making many products used in different environmental conditions. This is due to its anti-corrosion and anti-rust properties. Titanium material is inert to acids, waters, acid chloride, etc., making it suitable for making products used in such conditions.
Titanium alloys have an increased elasticity than other materials such as steel and nickel. Consequently, it has better flexibility which reduces stress during fabrication and machining. As a result of its elasticity, titanium is suitable for making products such as springs, drill pipes and bellows.
Titanium material is non-reactive, non-toxic, and biocompatible. Consequently, it is used in making products that are compatible with the body. This includes prosthetics, body implants and jewellery. It is also an ideal product for making products used in food processing.
· Thermal Expansion
Titanium and its alloys have a lesser thermal expansion than materials such as aluminium, ferrous, nickel and copper alloys. The low thermal expansion coefficient is responsible for its better interface compatibility with other materials such as ceramic and glasses. It also minimises warping and fatigue effect.
Pro of Using Titanium in Rapid Prototyping
Titanium material has many advantages. Consequently, it is suitable for making products employed in different scenarios. Below are the pros of making use of titanium prototyping.
Titanium material is one of the strongest and most durable metals on Earth. For those into chemistry, it has the highest strength to density ratio in the periodic table. This means that even though it has huge strength, it has a complementing density. Therefore, you see titanium material being applicable in making lightweight but sturdy products.
Unlike some materials such as steel used in rapid prototyping, titanium has a natural anti-corrosion and anti-rust property. Consequently, it is applicable in making products used in harsh environmental conditions. This is because titanium doesn’t oxidise in water and oxygen which are the necessary factors that lead to corrosion and rust.
Cons of Using Titanium in Rapid Prototyping
Titanium material also has many disadvantages, which reduces its use in rapid prototyping or industrial applications. Below are a few cons associated with titanium material.
· Difficulty In Casting
Due to its immense toughness, hardness, and strength, titanium material is difficult to cast. Therefore, CNC machining titanium material requires a high level of experience from the team handling the project. At RapidDirect, our engineers are seasoned designers, and they offer the best titanium CNC service based on their immense experience working with titanium and other materials.
· It Is Expensive
When compared to other materials, titanium is a very expensive metal. Therefore, there is a limitation on its use in manufacturing. The cost of titanium material is hugely attributed to its rarity, unique process of extraction, and the machines used in its fabrication and machining.
Different Types of Titanium
Choosing the right titanium material by a titanium CNC service or an individual comes with understanding the different available titanium types. There are many categories used to depict titanium material. In this section, we will discuss the common categories used in classifying titanium and how they link to each other.
The Titanium Alloys
An alloy is a material that contains a primary metal (in this case, titanium) and other metals in a small/fixed percentage. The addition of other metals to titanium helps in improving its mechanical properties such as malleability. This is aside from the regular strength and corrosion resistance it is popular for. Below are some titanium alloys grades used by titanium CNC service, which you can utilize for your project.
· Titanium Grade 5
The grade 5 titanium alloy is the most common alloy used by titanium CNC service. Many machinists refer to it as the “workhorse,” as it averages half the titanium demand. Grade 5 titanium material is strong, tough, and easily machined or fabricated. Consequently, it is suitable for making products sued in aerospace, sports, and marine industries.
· Titanium Grade 9
Titanium Grade 9 contains Aluminum (3%) and Vanadium (2.5%). It is a strong titanium grade, and it has high corrosion resistance. Therefore, it is applicable in the aerospace, chemical production, medical, and automotive industries.
· Titanium Grade 12
The Titanium Grade 12 alloy contains 0.3% molybdenum and 0.8% nickel. The addition of the two elements leads to better corrosion resistance properties. Titanium grade 12 is suitable for making products used in chemical production industries and power generation plants.
Alpha, Beta, and Alpha-Beta Titanium Alloys
Another form of categorising titanium grades that we will explore in this titanium alloy guide is the alpha, beta, and alpha-beta titanium alloy. This classification is in terms of the alloy’s ability to undergo heat treatment and its machinability.
· Alpha Titanium Alloys
Titanium alloys under this category are non-heat-treatable. Nevertheless, they are easily fabricated using sheet metal fabrication methods such as welding. They are applicable in making parts used in the aerospace industry and chemical processing equipment.
· Titanium Beta Alloys
Unlike the alpha titanium alloy, the beta alloy is heat treatable. They also have high strength to density ratio, good creep resistance and excellent formability. Common examples of beta titanium alloys include: Ti3Al8V6Cr4Mo4Zr, ASTM Grade 19, Ti-3Al-8V-6Cr-4Mo-4Zr
Heat treatment of beta alloys depends on their form. On the one hand, metastable beta titanium alloys can only undergo solution treatment and ageing. On the other hand, stable beta-titanium can only undergo annealing.
· Titanium Alpha-Beta Alloys
Titanium Alpha Beta alloys are heat treatable. They have medium strength and a better heat temperature creep strength than alpha titanium alloy. A common example of alpha-beta titanium alloy is Ti 6Al-4V and it has many numerous applications.
Pure Titanium Grade
Pure grade titanium materials are titanium rapid prototyping choices used in making many products. The “pure” means the titanium material does not contain other elements. Consequently, their anti-corrosion property is better than the titanium alloys. However, you have to judge them based on their oxygen content which is responsible for how strong the titanium grades are under this category. Titanium CNC services use four pure titanium grades. Below are their properties.
· Titanium Grade 1
The grade 1 pure titanium has the lowest oxygen level of the four grades. Consequently, it is very soft (the softest of the four) and easily fabricated and machined. It is also ductile and is suitable for making products used in architecture, medical, and marine industries.
· Titanium Grade 2
The titanium material of grade 2 is harder than the grade one. As a rule, the higher the grade the higher the oxygen level. Due to the increase in oxygen level, there is an increase in strength. However, there is also a decrease in machinability and fabrication.
Grade 2 pure titanium has moderate strength. They are also malleable and corrosion-resistant. Consequently, they are suitable for making products used in architecture, automotive parts, aerospace, and desalination.
· Titanium Grade 3
From the number, it is evident that this grade is stronger than grades 2 and 1. However, as expected, it is less machinable, less malleable, and less ductile. Grade 3 titanium is suitable for making products used in aerospace and marine industries.
· Titanium Grade 4
This titanium grade has the highest oxygen level. Consequently, it is stronger than grades 2 and 3—however, an increase in oxygen level results in a lower ductility but better anti-corrosion property. Therefore, titanium grade 4 is suitable for making products that require high strength e.g., in products used in the medical and aerospace industry.
Application of Titanium in Rapid Prototyping
Titanium has a wide application in many industries due to its unique properties. Below are a few ways pure grades of titanium alloys are used:
· Aerospace Industry
Titanium and its alloys, especially the grade 5 titanium alloy, are suitable for making parts used in aeroplanes. For example, they are used in making rotors, compression blades, landing gear, missiles. The major titanium characteristics that make it suitable for such function are its elevated strength-to-density ratio, anti-corrosion property, and heat tolerance.
· Biomedical Field
Titanium, due to its inert, non-toxic, and biocompatible properties, is suitable for making many products in the medical world. For example, titanium grade 23 alloy which engineers also call surgical titanium, is suitable for making body implants. Other products made from titanium that you can in the biomedical field are titanium alloys for making artificial hip and knee joints. Titanium coatings are for reducing wear and damages. Also, medical components can be made using titanium alloys.
· Jewellery Industry
Another industry with a profound like for titanium is the jewellery industry. This is because together with the lightweight and less dense property, titanium is also comfortable to wear.
Titanium is also popular in making jewellery such as wedding bands, rings and watches due to its anti-rust and anti-corrosion properties and fashionable appeal.
· Electronic Industry
Titanium is used in making hybrid circuit boards which seems better and effective than the traditional ones. Titanium is suitable for making hard disks. Here, it replaced aluminium due to its heat resistance property and its purity which increases the disk capacity.
· Automotive Industry
Due to its properties such as corrosion resistance, durability and ultimately strength, titanium is applicable in making many vehicular parts. For examples of titanium CNC parts in the automotive industry include connecting rods, turbochargers, exhaust systems, bodywork frames.
· Other Titanium Applications
Titanium is also applicable in other scenarios. For example, with rapid prototyping, you can make titanium CNC parts such as eyeglasses frames, walking poles, bicycle frames, clocks, etc., using titanium.
How to Choose the Right Titanium Grade?
Choosing the right titanium grade comes with the understanding of the different properties of titanium grades and how they will contribute to the project. Below are a few factors to consider when choosing the right titanium grade for rapid prototyping
· Mechanical Properties
Do you want a pure titanium grade or an alloyed one? The type of titanium you choose will play a huge role in the mechanical properties you get. For example, if you are looking for products to use in a corrosive environment, the best grade is the pure titanium grade. If you are also thinking of hardness in pure titanium grade, the grade 4 titanium is the best to use.
· Environment Of Use
The environment of use also plays a huge role in the type of titanium you use. In an environment with water, air, acids, etc., it is better to choose a pure titanium grade as they have better anti-corrosion and anti-rust properties than other categories.
Another important factor is the machinability of the titanium grade. Pure titanium grade is not that machinable. While they are popular for their anti-corrosion properties, they lack mechanical properties such as ductility and malleability. Consequently, they are less machinable. The most machinable titanium grade is titanium grade 5.
Titanium and Rapid Prototyping
Rapid prototyping involves different methods in the fast turnaround of products. It involves the use of many materials, of which titanium is unique. The uniqueness being as a result of properties such as strength, lightweight, etc. There are many machining and fabrication methods you can use with titanium; below are a few titanium prototyping methods you can try:
· CNC Milling
CNC milling is also another process that you can use in machining alloy. It is more difficult than CNC turning. It uses a computer-controlled machine to cut away at the titanium workpiece to produce the required product.
Drilling of titanium material is possible by using a sharp drill of the right size. However, while drilling, it is important to maintain max drilling Force and avoid the drill riding the titanium surface.
· CNC Turning
Another popular CNC machining titanium process is CNC turning. The process is suitable for both pure and titanium alloy. However, the type of tools most ideal for CNC machining titanium is carbide tools. This is because it has a better production rate and longer tool life. It is also possible to use high-speed steel. However, at such points, it is recommended you use super high-speed steel.
· Water Jet Cutting
Water jet cutting is a sheet metal fabrication method used to cut Titanium and its alloy. It involves the use of high-speed water containing abrasives to cut the material. Water jet cutting is ideal due to the speed and the production of a smooth burr-free edge. It is also not affected by the difference in hardness of different titanium grades.
There is also another rapid prototyping process you can use in titanium rapid prototyping. However, the best rapid prototyping service requires the best rapid prototyping service provider. At RapidDirect, we are sure of our craft having gained years’ worth of experience working with many materials, of which titanium is the tip of the iceberg. For the best rapid prototyping process using titanium, or if you have another material in mind, simply click on “Get a Quote”, and believe me, it is only your internet speed that is keeping you away from total freedom.
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Yes, titanium and its alloy are machinable. They have desirable mechanical properties, and they are easy to work with. However, CNC machining titanium must be handled by professionals.
While it can be easy to machine, properties such as low young modulus, extreme hardness, and low ductility make titanium hard to machine. However, the alloys have an improved mechanical property. Consequently, they are easier to machine than the pure grade. CNC machining titanium, therefore, comes with understanding the grades you are working with and its properties.
Titanium material is a common rapid prototyping material used in different capabilities. There are many grades and alloys of titanium that you can work with. Therefore, it can be challenging to choose the right one. To help you with this, this article acts as a titanium alloy guide. It introduced the material, its properties. It then properly discussed the different grades of titanium and how to choose the right one. Are you looking for a material for prototyping? Titanium prototyping ensures you have a prototype that is strong, corrosion-resistant and flexible