Titanium properties are usually classified in four primary categories – general, physical, atomic and other properties.
General properties are those elements that clearly identify titanium in relations with other chemical elements. Kind of what an ID card or passport does for humans. They would be summarized something like : Titanium , Symbol –TI, number – 22, category – transition metal, standard atomic weight – 48, position in the periodical table of elements – 4, 4, d.
This would be usually enough for a chemist to know some things about the metal. But generally someone not so familiar with exact sciences should also know that titanium presents as somewhat shiny, dark-gray, silverish metal. The silvery luster is heavily depended on purity, the more pure grades being whiter than their less pure counterparts.
As for physical titanium properties, titanium is a solid (as opposed to liquid or gaseous materials), with a density of 4.506 g/cm³, a melting point of 1668 °C/3034 ° F). This makes titanium as strong as steel, but with half the weight. You can find a more in-depth look at this particular property in my titanium density expansion.
On the other hand titanium out-weighs aluminum by roughly 50%. Usually, because of the increased strength this weight difference is not noticeable in commercial applications as greater volumes of aluminum are needed to achieve the same strength parameters as one would meet with titanium. This is why titanium has almost outmatched aluminum in aerospace sectors. Titanium also exhibits a good impact resistance (as opposed to lighter, but softer metals) and a notably ductility – making it easier to machine that other harder materials (such as tungsten or cobalt).
One of the titanium properties that are of extreme importance both in medical and heavy industrial sectors is its corrosion resistance. I strongly believe that this especially important titanium capability is the most under evaluated of all other titanium traits. There is a lot of money spent every year on different forms of protection from corrosion, such as paints, treatments, even on replacing different parts that are simply corroded away sometimes simply by exposure to air (oxygen is highly reactive) and humidity (as some would say, water is the ultimate solvent). Imagine how much could be saved if only we didn’t have to paint our bridges every couple of years. We could do that if they were made out of titanium.
The mechanism of titanium high resistance to corrosion is caused, ironically, by the fact that the metal is very reactive with the oxygen from the atmosphere, thus forming an adherent, non-porous and chemically inert thin layer of oxide starting from 1-2 nm and reaching up to 25 nm after four years of exposure (nm – nanometers).
The most low-tech method of identifying titanium is by use of a grinder machine. Just put the part in question to grind and take note of the sparks resulted. For a pure titanium part they should be sparkling white, as opposed to those generated by steel alloys which are noticeably yellow in color. Also, for smaller pieces, a fast checkup is by using a magnet. Titanium has weak to zero para-magnetic properties, so it won’t stick. It’s not definitive, but it’s a good start.
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