Up Your Parts Game With Titanium

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Ready for a quick history lesson? In 1791, while rooting through a streambed in south Cornwall, England, amateur geologist and clergyman William Gregor came upon a black, metallic sand that looked like gunpowder. He brought it back to his lab, mixed it with some sulfuric acid, and soon determined that he’d discovered a new metal. Gregor called it manaccanite, in deference to the nearby village where he’d stopped that morning for a sandwich and some ale.

That was in 1791. Four years later, German scientist Martin Klaproth came across the same metal, this time hidden in a chunk of rock known by gemologists as red schorl. Klaproth didn’t know then that Gregor would soon rain on his “look what I found” parade, although he was apparently much better at marketing than his English counterpart; his metal’s lofty title—titanium, which he named after his favorite Greek gods, the Titans—is still with us today.

Twice as strong, half the weight

What does any of this have to do with making parts? Not much, actually, except that A) I like history, and B) titanium is the strongest of all the metals that SendCutSend machines, roughly three times as strong of aluminum by weight, twice that of carbon steel, and stronger even than AR500 armor plating. Granted, titanium might not be the strongest metal around—that honor goes to the far less ductile tungsten—but it is the strongest by weight, an important and far more useful distinction.

Because of this, titanium is a darling of the aerospace industry, which uses it for everything from engine and structural components to the skin of the SR-71 Blackbird. It’s also biocompatible and hypoallergenic, making it suitable for use in medical devices, orthopedic implants, and pacemaker parts, as well as applications requiring excellent resistance to seawater and some chemicals.

If you had an Apple PowerBook back in the day, you probably already know that it housed a titanium chassis, but what you might not know is that the enamel that makes school buses yellow and our houses white is loaded with the stuff—in fact, roughly 95% of all the titanium mined from Mother Earth is used to make titanium dioxide, a pigment used in paint, paper, and plastics.

Ubiquitous titanium

The point here is simple: titanium is everywhere, and if you’re looking for a strong, durable, corrosion-proof, and very lightweight metal for your next project, give titanium a look. It’s one of our most popular metals, which is why SendCutSend stocks Grade 5 titanium—considered the workhorse of all titanium alloys—in 0.040, 0.080, and 0.125-inch thicknesses and sheet sizes up to 5 x 10 feet.

Laser-cut Titanium

Our customers use it for robotic applications. Decorative parts for EDC (electronic dance) are also popular, as are consumer goods like bottle openers and marine trim. Titanium also makes a darned nice sign for a store front or reception area. All of our parts are precision laser-cut using high-purity nitrogen, thus improving edge quality and making them easier to weld, paint, or powder coat.

The only caveat to titanium—as with all sheet metals—is its mill finish (plus the fact that it arrives to us on a big flat-bed truck driven by a guy named Hal who doesn’t care how many pot holes he hits each day). This means there might be some small scratches and other minor surface imperfections present after cutting. If that’s a problem, though, just let us know. We’ll be happy to discuss ways to make your titanium parts into works of art, even if you need them in a hurry. That’s what we do.

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