What is Titanium?
Before discussing anodized titanium it is important to explain about titanium itself. Titanium was first discovered in Cornwall, UK in 1791 by William Gregor and named for the Titan of Greek mythology. The metal itself has properties such as corrosion resistance and high strength to density ratio, in fact, it is the highest of any metallic element. This makes it as strong as most steels whilst being lighter.
Titanium can be alloyed with iron, aluminum, vanadium, and molybdenum as well as other elements. Its alloys are light and strong and used in jet engines, spacecraft and in the military as well as in industrial process which make use of its anti-corrosion properties such as paper manufacturing, chemical and petrochemical, and desalination plants. It’s high strength and biocompatible properties mean it is used in agriculture, medical prostheses, orthopedic implants, dental implants as well as many other uses such as jewelry.
Overview of Anodized Titanium
Titanium anodizing is a process used in metal finishing to apply a layer to finished products. Anodized titanium is used in a number of industries such as the medical and aerospace industries. The process of anodizing gives titanium all the advantages of hardening and coloring without changing the metals mechanical properties.
Titanium itself is an extremely hard, durable metal used in many applications. These natural properties plus the addition of anodizing make the metal an essential component for engineers and manufacturers in today’s high-tech markets.
Of all the industries relying on anodized titanium, perhaps the most reliant in the aerospace industry. Developed primarily as a fix for titanium fasteners into aircraft skins. It was discovered that anodizing titanium prevented various issues in applications which relied on metal-to-metal contact. This then moved to applications in other industries.
What process is used for anodized titanium?
The process of anodizing titanium is one which adjusts the level of the naturally occurring oxide layer on titanium’s surface. The goal of the process is to increase the mass of the oxide layer.
Titanium anodizing is a biocompatible process. The process generates a massive range of colors without the need to use any dyes or other artificial coatings to the surface of the base metal. Instead, voltage is applied to the part in question through fixturing in an electrolytic bath, the level of voltage controls the final color. As the additions of molecules in the oxide layer are increased so is the thickness.
The thickness of the oxide layer affects the light entering the layer and refracts at different angles. This acts in the same way that a prism does. The oxygen in the solution reacts with the surface of the titanium and increases to a precise thickness depending on the voltage applied. This change in the oxide layer causes light to refract and changes the spectrum of light, so the eye perceives a different color. This layer of color will not fade or discolor over time.
The benefit of this is that the base layer of titanium in anodized titanium remains unchanged, as only the perception of color.
The Benefits of anodized titanium
Perhaps the most widely known, and certainly most obvious, the benefit of titanium anodizing is the vibrant, consistent finish it gives the substrate. The process gives the part an even, all-over color.
Because of its the ability to be used in parts of all sizes, large and small, anodized titanium is used to color parts according to type for easy and instant identification. For example in the case of fasteners, high-volume batches may have subtle differences between each set, with color-coding it is easy to tell them apart even at a distance.
Many parts are colored to make identification easy, this is sometimes done with dies or other coating methods. Unlike these methods using dyes etc., anodizing is created using a natural process, without the need or use of chemical additives. This sanitary method makes anodized titanium ideal and popular in the use of dental tips, medical devices and tools, and means that the part retains it’s high corrosion resistance together it’s resistance to high-temperature environments.
Anodized titanium uses a natural, dye-free process which uses electricity and oxygen to increase the layer of oxide on the metal part. This is different from anodized aluminum which used dyes to achieve the desired colors. This means that anodized titanium is far more environmentally friendly than other anodized metals.
In summary; anodized titanium has the following benefits
- Coloring without dyes
- Aesthetic appeal
- General color coding of parts
- Part identification
- Part size identification
- Material/alloy identification
- The result is a clean, passive surface
- Increase in fatigue strength of 20%, through lessened friction
- Environmentally friendly
Due to its anti-corrosion, biocompatible, high-temperature resistance and high strength to density ratio, anodized titanium is used in a vast range of applications:
- Aerospace & Aviation
- Automotive & Racing
- Consumer Products
- Dental Implants & Devices
- Fasteners & Nuts
- Firearms & Sporting Goods
- Gears Hinges & Joints
- Machinery Components
- Medical Implants & Devices
- Military & Naval
- Optics Oil & Gas
- Orthopaedic Component’s
- Pumps & Valves
- Sub-sea Applications
- Threaded Surfaces
You can read more about our anodizing services here.