Titanium exists abundantly in nature in a number of ores as a transition metal. It receives the designation Ti on the Periodic Table and maintains 22 protons in its nucleus. In its purified form, titanium forms a silvery-white metal characterized by high strength, low density and impressive corrosion resistance. It maintains a much higher melting point than iron or steel, and consequently, due to the difficulty of smelting it, titanium did not gain popularity before the 20th century.
Today titanium alloys enjoy high demand in a few economic sectors. The military and defense industries pioneered the use of titanium, which for many purposes offers a desirable lighter weight alternative to aluminum. This strong metal also sometimes contributes to dental and medical implants. Due to its comparatively high melting point and poor heat conduction, titanium and its alloys form some components used in airplanes and aerospace vehicles. Titanium has also obtained limited use as a constituent of luxury consumer items, such as jewelry, golf clubs, and watches.
Three features of titanium render this metal especially useful as a component of aircraft and aerospace equipment. The combination of very low density, impressive strength-to-weight ratios and corrosion resistance have created a high demand for titanium and its alloys. Additionally, titanium offers a comparatively low thermal expansion rate, a fact which contributes to its ability to maintain its shape within tight tolerances. Just consider a few of the applications for titanium and titanium alloys within the aerospace industry:
Forged Wing Structures: It high strength-to-weight ratio makes titanium and many of its alloys especially useful in the replacement of heavy aircraft parts. Planes which weigh less tend to enjoy better fuel efficiency. Reportedly, some commercial passenger airplanes in the skies today contain 15% titanium parts.
Landing Gear: With recent advances in the development of strong titanium alloys, these materials have begun appearing as components in the landing gears of some airplanes.
Critical Fasteners, Springs, and Hydraulic Tubing: Some companies engineer titanium fasteners, springs and hydraulic tubing for aviation and aerospace missions. Titanium displays tensile strength.
Booster Rockets: The ability of titanium and its alloys to offer light weight and low thermal expansion contributes to the usefulness of these metals in aerospace projects employing booster rockets. Research remains ongoing to develop even stronger, lighter weight corrosion resistant metals for use in space flight.
Manned Spacecraft: The development of new titanium alloys have permitted the incorporation of titanium components into some manned spacecraft vehicles. Titanium offers better corrosion resistance against salt water than many other metals, making it useful for space capsules designed to land in the ocean.
Other: Some manufacturers have even begun using custom titanium parts in aircraft engine shafts and casings. Titanium’s thermal resistance, high melting point and low density enhance its value to aviation and aerospace manufacturers.
Titanium and titanium alloys offer several important benefits for aerospace industry design teams. Manufacturers can produce lighter weight aircraft and space vehicles using this metal, achieving better fuel economy. The metal’s high melting point and low thermal expansion rate make it useful for some aerospace purposes. It also offers superior corrosion resistance to aluminum in salt water. Titanium parts maintain close tolerances better than alternative aluminum constituents.
The AS9100 code seeks to establish quality control standards for industries which include the aviation and aerospace industries. Since October, 1999, the body of rules have assisted companies working to engineer and produce components and equipment for these sectors. The code endeavors to set voluntary standards for use internationally by companies which desire to comply with these specifications. Some nations, such as the USA, rely heavily on these recognized industry standards in drafting legislation and substantive rules governing manufacturing activities.
The AS9100 code incorporates all of the IOS9000 standards previously promulgated by the International Standards Organization. The sponsoring organizations have released periodic updates in an effort to keep pace with new technological developments. The latest version, Revision D, became available on September 20, 2016.
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