Titanium’s characteristics and the requirements of aerospace manufacturers are so closely related that growth of the metal and related industries have been greatly intertwined.
The high strength and low density of titanium and its alloys ensured a positive role for the metal in aero-engine and airframe applications. Through the combination of a low elastic modulus, high hardness and melting temperature, the use of titanium enables lighter weight structures with a high tolerance to physical damage and shock resistance. It is difficult to imagine how current levels of performance (engine power to weight ratios; airframe strength; aircraft speed and range; and other critical factors) could be achieved without titanium.
Investment casting techniques allow complex shapes to be made at relatively low cost. For example, heat shields that protect wing components from engine exhaust are cast of titanium. Cold hearth melting is used for producing defect-free metal for critical rotating engine components.
Superplastic forming/diffusion bonding has helped to increase the use of titanium alloys in new airframe designs, by lowering the cost through less machining, reworking and fewer component parts.