Print 33 comment(s) - last by FreeTard.. on May 26 at 1:46 PM

The BAE Systems Joint Light Tactical Vehicle  (Source: Courtesy of
Less costly manufacturing may put titanium in everyone's doors.

Titanium, since its discovery in the late 1700s, has been something of a wonder metal. A naturally occurring element, it has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any known metal, and while some steel alloys compare in strength, titanium is nearly half as heavy. Titanium is also highly corrosion resistant, making it ideal for use in many applications. Titanium is used in everything from pigments to aerospace materials to medical devices and has garnered a keen interest by the military since the 1950s.

Though the element is incredibly useful, the high cost of producing it has kept it out of general use. In 2006, DuPont and Materials and Electrochemical Research Corporation were awarded $5.7 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to engineer new processes to create titanium powder more efficiently.

Now, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has found a way to reduce the cost of creating useful titanium parts even further -- by up to 50%, states a press release at ORNL. Rather than employing a typical melt-type process, the ORNL technique, which is being jointly developed by ORNL, International Titanium Powders, Ametek and BAE Systems, leaves the powder in its solid form and employed roll compaction to produce sheets of metal. Once the sheets are made, extrusion and press and sinter processes can be used to create various forms and parts.

"We recently exhibited the new low-cost titanium alloy door made by ORNL for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which is a next-generation combat vehicle. By using a titanium alloy for the door, BAE Systems was able to reduce the weight of its vehicle yet at the same time decrease the threat of armor-piercing rounds," explains Bill Peter, a researcher in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division.

Not only will ORNL's fabrication process enable safer and more durable vehicles for military use, medical science will benefit from the lower cost of producing things like joint replacements and dental implants. Vehicles based on titanium rather than steel could have stronger, safer frames while enabling greater fuel efficiency due to reduced weight. This could yield tremendous results when combined with evolving hybrid electric or fuel cell-powered consumer automobiles.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Bigger problem
By FITCamaro on 5/23/2008 10:52:20 AM , Rating: 4
Titanium is still a rare metal. It's hardly going to become as affordable as something like steel(yes I know steel is an alloy). So don't expect to see it in your car anytime soon.

But I'm glad they can make producing military vehicles and medical products cheaper. Should enable us to get our boys the best there is a lot easier.

RE: Bigger problem
By Desslok on 5/23/2008 10:55:41 AM , Rating: 2
Why do you have to burst my bubble like that??? I was planning on a Ti wing for my Civic.

RE: Bigger problem
By FITCamaro on 5/23/08, Rating: -1
RE: Bigger problem
By Runiteshark on 5/23/2008 3:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
I personally prefer the joke:

"The Gay & The Curious"

Titanium wings are just fine, as long as they don't jut out like a STi's.

RE: Bigger problem
By Desslok on 5/23/2008 8:13:35 PM , Rating: 1
At least the STi's wing serves SOME purpose since it is an AWD car. Now these jokers that put them on a FWD car I will never understand.

RE: Bigger problem
By Calin on 5/24/2008 2:18:28 AM , Rating: 3
a front wheel drive car still needs grip on its rear tires (for cornering at speed). The usual shape of the cars create naturally a lifting force at the rear end, and here is where the wing has an effect.
While rear wings on a rear wheel drive car will allow it to accelerate faster at speed than at rest (see formula 1 cars), rear wings on a front wheel drive car will allow it to corner faster (keep the rear from skiding).

RE: Bigger problem
By mindless1 on 5/26/2008 12:08:39 AM , Rating: 2
Actually no, FWD cars exhibit plowing, not rear skid, first.

RE: Bigger problem
By darkpuppet on 5/26/2008 11:11:18 AM , Rating: 2
well, FWD has inherent understeer properties, but all road-going cars are engineered for a certain amount of understeer, regardless of if they're FWD, RWD, or AWD. It makes cars safer for the unsuspecting masses.

But understeer can be engineered out of a car easily enough...

Slap a big anti-roll bar into the rear of a FWD car, and you'll have a FWD car that is prone to oversteer (off-throttle oversteer or braking oversteer).

Granted, most wings slapped onto FWD cars (especially your typical Hot Import Nights car) aren't set up properly and do very little for improving traction. However, a properly set up wing will benefit any car regardless of which wheels are driven.

And when you slap a wing on a sedan, bigger is often better, since you want at least a portion of that wing in clean air, and not that turbulent mess that comes off your roofline (which could be fixed with some vortex generators, IMO).. it's not uncommon to see miata's with wings spread past their body lines on high-calibur auto-x events.

RE: Bigger problem
By Samus on 5/23/2008 4:02:31 PM , Rating: 1
Ti wing? Are you joking? Carbon fiber is far more practical for any vehicle application. The only thing it can't do as well ar Titanium is stop a bullet.

RE: Bigger problem
By Runiteshark on 5/23/2008 4:19:18 PM , Rating: 2
So, heres a question for you:

Carbon fiber is better right? Do you even know what it is? They get sheets of it and put it on plastic, then lacquer it. Thats all it is. Its not like its woven and spun and a solid block of carbon fiber. A Titanium wing (while totally unnecessary) is just about as necessary as the need to have a carbon fiber coated wing over just a straight urethane wing with paint.

RE: Bigger problem
By HVAC on 5/23/2008 11:00:39 AM , Rating: 2
Raw ore is about USD $0.35 per pound of resultant titanium. Processing is the big killer because it takes so much freaking energy to melt titanium, which is the normal method of making stuff out of it.

This process will be a big boon to all who use titanium in ways except cast from powder. The cost of that method is not helped by this breakthrough.

RE: Bigger problem
By HVAC on 5/23/2008 11:02:01 AM , Rating: 2
... make that "melt cast from powder" ...

RE: Bigger problem
By soxfan on 5/23/2008 9:22:46 PM , Rating: 2
A much better way to make titanium parts is to use the CHIP process (cold hot isostatic pressing) developed by Stan Abkowitz (the guy who invented the most commonly used Ti alloy nowadays, Ti-6AL-4V). The CHIP process allows for far cheaper production of near net shape products than melt casting. MOreover, it allows for work and directionality to be added after the formation of the final product, which means that many products formed from this process require significantly less post treatment (annealing) than products produced by casting Ti.

RE: Bigger problem
By JAB on 5/23/2008 11:34:39 AM , Rating: 2
Not so much. The problem is that you need to protect it from the air wile you melt it and as you work with it. It very quickly can become contaminated and brittle with contact to air during processing.

RE: Bigger problem
By 91TTZ on 5/23/2008 8:10:10 PM , Rating: 2
Raw ore is about USD $0.35 per pound of resultant titanium. Processing is the big killer because it takes so much freaking energy to melt titanium, which is the normal method of making stuff out of it.

It's not going to take much more energy to melt titanium than it takes to melt steel. Steel is heavier and has more thermal mass, and its melting point is almost as high.

RE: Bigger problem
By masher2 on 5/24/2008 12:09:09 AM , Rating: 2
> "It's not going to take much more energy to melt titanium than it takes to melt steel."

The difference is that titanium is (currently) made in a multi-step process, which requires it to be heated and melted several times.

Titanium is also more expensive because iron can be reduced (the opposite of oxidized) by cheap carbon, whereas expensive magnesium is used to reduce titanium.

RE: Bigger problem
By Calin on 5/24/2008 2:21:06 AM , Rating: 2
But steel can be cold-forged, and you don't need to heat it much to hot-forge it (it loses strength quickly with temperature). On the other hand, titanium mantains strength into much higher temperatures, so you need to heat it real high to work it

RE: Bigger problem
By slashbinslashbash on 5/23/2008 3:58:03 PM , Rating: 2
Rare is relative. Titanium is still in the top 10 most abundant elements found in the Earth's crust:

Ti is about 1/10th as common as iron or aluminum, but still not as rare as cobalt, nickel, lead, gold, silver, copper, or a number of other useful metals. The problem with Ti is that it is hardly ever found in pure (or even relatively pure) ore form like the other metals listed. You will never find a big chunk of titanium in nature. Instead it is bonded to other elements. It is found in most kinds of soil. It is just very hard to extract in an economical manner.

RE: Bigger problem
By codeThug on 5/24/2008 8:48:31 PM , Rating: 2
Titanium is the 9th most abundant element in the earth's crust. So no, it is not rare by any stretch. It is however, very expensive to extract from naturally occurring titanium ores.

The article speaks to an advancement in the refining process to reduce the costs of said process.

It's affordability could rival that of Aluminum and certainly that of high alloy steel.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
Related Articles

Most Popular Articles5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Automaker Porsche may expand range of Panamera Coupe design.
September 18, 2016, 11:00 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
No More Turtlenecks - Try Snakables
September 19, 2016, 7:44 AM
ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children: Problem or Paranoia?
September 19, 2016, 5:30 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki