Increased Demand for Titanium Sheet

In 2009, the global titanium market suffered from an acute descent whereas demand was concerned. Nine years later, we are seeing a rapid recovery, with aerospace applications covering over 60% of the present demand (especially in Europe and North America). The sponge and mill products have driven the demand for titanium even more, particularly in Asia (China). And one thing is certain. We will definitely see titanium becoming more and more used for industrial applications.

Aerospace industry, the main market for titanium

As the new generation of passenger aircrafts is born, top manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing, began to rely increasingly on titanium. The airframe is made, among other elements, from carbon fibre reinforced polymers (abbreviated CFRPs).

The compatibility of these polymers is high when it comes to titanium, as opposed to aluminum. For this reason, in the next decade, it is expected that the demand for titanium will grow. Aircraft manufacturers will begin to consider titanium as one of the key materials for their production (aerospace grade titanium sponge).

New applications for titanium – paints & coatings – drive the demand up

Apart from the aerospace sector, we are seeing titanium becoming increasingly used for industrial applications. Apart from titanium tubing, this metal is increasingly used for the development of paints and coatings. When incorporated into coatings, titanium acts as a dispersive agent; it is appreciated for its high resistance and amazing gloss retention.

When it comes to the global titanium dioxide market, it is expected that the coating segment will occupy a larger percentage with the passing of time. This is because the demand for industrial, as well as architectural coatings, is on the rise (China, India and other Asian countries). As developing economies begin to invest in infrastructure, the demand for titanium-based coatings will definitely increase.

At the moment, titanium is extracted from several minerals. The purest form of titanium is found in rutile, which covers the largest market for titanium extraction. The titanium dioxide produced from rutile has the highest refractive index, this being the number one reason for which it is so in demand. The superior properties of titanium, such as whiteness and opacity, have made it a perfect candidate for paints and coatings.

Titanium has been added to coatings which have been used for photovoltaic cells (see below). The demand for such coatings increased, as manufacturers became interested in improving the performance of dye-based cells. As more and more companies show an interest in using clean energy sources, we can expect titanium to become a preferred solution for such types of coatings.

Titanium allows for lightweight vehicles

The automotive industry is using the titanium alloy sheet and other forms of this metal, in order to create lightweight vehicles and improve fuel efficiency. The main idea is to reduce the fuel usage by creating a lighter vehicle, one that still offers safety, strength and reliability.

In the future, manufacturers will rely on lightweight polycarbonates, replacing other traditional materials. Titanium dioxide has grown in demand, being appreciated for its high resistance to weather, heat, light and even scratching. As the automotive applications diversify, we will definitely see titanium being used as a regular component of modern-generation vehicles.

Other sectors rely on titanium to develop better products

It is clear that the future of titanium dioxide on the global market looks quite promising. Titanium has even begun to be used by the pulp paper and plastics industries, thanks to its wide range of beneficial properties. Apart from regular paper, titanium is progressively used for the development of decorative foils and even for magazine papers.

The need for lightweight polycarbonates, paired with titanium, will keep the plastics end use segment in demand as well. The plastic industry has begun to show an increased interest in using titanium as raw material. They are looking to improve the mechanical strength of such products, enhancing their resistance to potentially-damaging factors (UV light, high temperatures, etc.). Moreover, titanium could represent an excellent material for the development of bioplastics.

The titanium alloy bar and other alloys of this kind are used in the chemical and power industries. As a matter of fact, the desalination industry has contributed to the rising demand as well. Leading-edge photovoltaic systems use nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (for example, the dye-sensitized solar cells).

Future of titanium as in-demand material for various applications

The estimated value of the global titanium market by 2021 is of $18.2 billion. No doubt, we will continue to see end industries, such as the ones mentioned above, to represent major growth drivers (paper, coatings and plastics).

Titanium, as a key raw material, will be used for the production of coatings with a higher resistance to corrosion. We will also see it increasingly used for automotive and aircraft coatings, as well as for emulsion paints.

The choice of titanium for marine coatings is not random, given the need for high corrosion resistance in seawater. Even decorative coatings will benefit from the usage of titanium, for similar reasons.

New research will allow titanium to be more easily manufactured, thus cutting back on the production costs and driving the demand for such materials. Thanks to technological innovations, the manufacturing process will improve, causing the titanium dioxide pigment to be of a higher quality.