TITANIUM – THE FIRST CHOICE IN AIRCRAFT CONSTRUCTION

EX­TEN­SIVE PRO­DUC­TION PROCESS

Ti­ta­nium – is the ma­te­r­ial for aerospace in­dus­try: ex­tremely light, ex­cep­tion­ally re­sis­tant, and durable. Wher­ever high sta­bil­ity and less weight are re­quired this ma­te­r­ial is the first choice. That is why HIRSCHMANN uses ti­ta­nium for the inner rings of their newest gen­er­a­tion of spher­i­cal bear­ings. It trans­mits forces and move­ment, and must be flex­i­ble and highly re­sis­tant at the same time. This high-qual­ity ma­te­r­ial is in the same league as ce­ramic, but at a much more affordable price. With these char­ac­ter­is­tics ti­ta­nium is a con­stant in aero­space tech­nol­ogy. But ti­ta­nium is in high de­mand, and cold form­ing is dif­fi­cult. This is the rea­son why HIRSCHMANN re­lies on a ma­te­r­ial com­bi­na­tion and uses alu­minum for the outer part of their light­weight spher­i­cal bear­ings.

Innenring aus Titan mit Beschichtung.
Inner ring made of titanium with coating

Titanium – a successful story

Found in the earth’s crust, titanium is one of the ten most abundant elements but nearly exclusively occurs chemically bound as element of minerals. In 1791 in England, amateur chemist William Gregor discovered titanium in Ilmenite. Four years later, the German chemist Heinrich Klaproth found it in Rutile and named the element for the Titans of Greek Mythology. Only in 1831 Justus von Liebig was successful in extracting metallic titanium from the ore. Pure metallic titanium (99,9%) was first prepared in 1910 by Matthew A. Hunter by heating TiCl4 with sodium at 700-800°C in a steel bomb. At the end of the 1930s, William Justin Kroll developed a new process for titanium extraction and used it for commercial production. Main mining regions are Australia, Scandinavia, North America, the Ural, and Malaysia - in 2010 new sources occurred in Paraguay.

Pure titanium can hardly be found in soil and must be extracted from titanic iron ore (Ilmenite) or Rutile. The extensive production process is reflected in the price for titanium which is 35 times higher than the price for steel alloys and 200 times higher than the price for crude steel (as of 2013). The largest producers are Australia, South Africa, Canada, China, and Norway.