Titanium is one of the most in-demand metals at the moment and its applications are only going to increase in the future decades. Whether in pure form or as alloys, the global market of titanium is on the rise. The metal is appreciated for its high tensile strength, as well as for the ability to withstand extreme temperature and extraordinary corrosion resistance.
Developing countries drive the demand for titanium
Products like the titanium alloy bar or the titanium alloy sheet have become increasingly used in developing countries. China is, at the moment, one of the top countries using titanium for various applications, being closely followed by India, Brazil and Mexico. Saudi Arabia is another developing country with an industrial activity that is based more and more on the use of titanium.
There are three main factors that have contributed to the increased global demand for titanium and its alloys, meaning high levels of urbanization, development of industrial activities and population growth. In China, for example, as the number of passengers increased, this led to a higher demand for aircrafts. The same change was noticed in India, with titanium soon being used for the making of aircraft parts.
China, a leading market for titanium (Asia-Pacific area)
The titanium tube, titanium sheet and titanium bar represent just three of the many products used by Chinese industries with success. China is a leading market for titanium, its applications being found in the automotive, aircraft, power, medical, desalination and chemical industries. India follows as the second-largest producer and consumer of titanium alloys in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is true that titanium is one of the most significant raw materials used in the aerospace industry, with alloys occupying a large percentage of the total. Today, titanium is used for the making of both aircraft engines and blades; even the shaft, landing gear, wing beams and fasteners can be made using titanium and its alloys. This is often related to the fact that titanium can operate at extreme temperatures, without its structure of functionality being affected.
Desire for fuel efficiency led to titanium being used for lightweight vehicles
In the past few years, the automotive industry has been under pressure to improve fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions at the same time. Manufacturers have begun to turn to alternative materials, such as titanium, in order to be able to reduce the weight of a vehicle considerably. Thus, titanium began to be used for the development of modern-generation, lightweight vehicles.
How did manufacturers manage to reduce the actual weight of a vehicle? They started to incorporate polycarbonates into the vehicle structure, using them to replace parts otherwise made from steel. However, it was soon discovered that these materials had a low scratch resistance and turned to titanium dioxide as coating.
The use of titanium dioxide on polycarbonate structure has contributed to the reduction of vehicle weights, improving fuel efficiency as a natural consequence. Apart from that, the titanium dioxide coating offered a more appealing color, not to mention added strength and opacity.
Other industries have driven the demand for titanium up. In the construction industry, titanium dioxide might be used as coating for green cement (in the form of nanoparticles). The paint industry relies on titanium for the development of highly-resistant coatings. Overall, the global titanium dioxide market was valued at $13.3 billion in 2015.
End-user industries will fuel the demand for titanium in the future
As previously mentioned, titanium is a commonly-chosen material for the development of coatings. Titanium pigments are added to various paints and coatings, with the demand for such substances continuing to increase. This is particularly important to mention, as more and more manufacturers are interested in developing products that are both environmentally-friendly and highly resistance to corrosion.
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are more and more often used by green industries. For example, these have been developed to be used in photovoltaic systems; titanium is an excellent material for dry-sensitized solar cells, having the ability to improve their performance. The paper & pulp industry uses titanium pigments as well, not to mention titanium is a common ingredient of various cosmetics.
The titanium sponge, a product of interest for many industries
The titanium sponge is one of the most interesting products, being used in various industrial applications. As technology evolved, the titanium melt capacity has increased and, thus, the number of steps required to obtain the sponge reduced. This led to titanium becoming a premium grade material, with countries such as China, USA, Russia and Japan investing in titanium production.
Why is the titanium sponge so appreciated? It represents one of the purest forms of this metal, being used as a base for other products, including titanium tubing, titanium piping and titanium pipe fittings. The titanium sponge has a high corrosion resistance, it can withstand both shocks and extreme temperatures. Moreover, has a low weight and a reduced maintenance cost; it is both biocompatible and recyclable.
China is the leading producer of titanium sponge, followed by Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. As for the export destinations, these include European countries, as well as the USA and South Korea. The titanium sponge is primarily used in the aerospace industry but it has found its use in other applications as well, such as the military.
The global demand for titanium and its alloys will keep on increasing, the growth being strongly driven by emerging markets. In the future, we will see titanium being used for innovative applications, changing the way both humans and industries function. Companies from various fields will rely on titanium for industrial applications, appreciating this metal for its unique properties.
Titanium dioxide will no doubt contribute to this increased demand, being used for paints and coatings, as well as making a genuine difference in the automotive industry. As for the titanium sponge, the research will be focused on simplifying the production process even further. With the manufacturing process simplified, more and more countries will become interested in the titanium sponge and its subsequent applications.