Titanium and aluminum are metals that can be found everywhere and are used in almost all the objects we encounter daily. But how much do you really know about each of these metals? How are they different from each other? When titanium is compared to aluminum, it’s helpful to know which metal is better in terms of weight, strength, thermal conductivity and cost.
Before we compare these metals against one another, let’s take a look at their individual properties.
What Is Titanium?
Titanium is a hard and strong metal that is shiny in appearance. The low density of the metal and the alloying agent makes this metal a great choice for objects such as aircraft, spacecraft and missiles. More commonly, titanium is used in laptops, bicycles and golf clubs. Titanium’s resistance to corrosion — which is owed to the thin oxide layer that forms on its surface when in air or water — makes it great to use for ships, submarines and any other similar structures that come in contact with seawater.
When people have joint problems and need to get implants, chances are they are made from titanium. This metal is also used in tooth implants, since it is able to connect well with bone.
As you can tell titanium has many uses. It is easily found in many different locations, most of the time with other elements — one of the reasons being that it’s the ninth-most common element on Earth. Despite the metal being common, it is still hard to work with titanium due to its high melting point — a staggering 3,038 degrees Fahrenheit. Though this melting point can make working with titanium challenging, it is ultimately a strong point for the metal.
What Is Aluminum?
Like titanium, aluminum is also silver, shiny and lightweight. If you were asked to name what aluminum is most commonly used in, you would probably say aluminum foil or soda cans. Both answers would be correct. Other uses of aluminum include kitchen utensils, window frames, beer kegs and airplane parts.
Aluminum’s malleability makes it very easy to work with, and it ranks as the second-most malleable metal. Along with that, aluminum ranks sixth for ductility — the ability to be drawn out into thin wires. Compared to titanium, aluminum has a more modest melting point at about 1,221 degrees Fahrenheit.
Interestingly, aluminum is too weak to be used alone. Therefore it is alloyed with other metals such as copper and magnesium, making it stronger despite the overall light weight of the compound. The transportation industry takes advantage of this characteristic and makes the most use out of this metal.
Titanium vs. Aluminum
The main value to comparing titanium and aluminum is to aid in determining which might be right for a certain application. Both metals are high in strength and low in weight. If you have to pick between these similar options, you need to know the differences between them to make your decision. The following comparison factors shed light on each metal’s strengths and weaknesses:
- Strength: When comparing the strength of titanium vs. aluminum, the better option is titanium. This metal is very strong and has a high strength-to-weight ratio. Aluminum is lightweight like titanium, but it is not really strong on its own. More specifically, titanium is twice as strong as aluminum while only 60% heavier.
- Weight: Since both aluminum and titanium are considered to be lightweight, there is not a major difference between the two in this category. However, titanium is about two-thirds heavier than aluminum and has more inherent strength. This means that when determining which metal to use, titanium’s strength may make it the optimal choice. Titanium’s strength-to-weight comparison often requires you to use less material than you’d need if you used aluminum.
- Thermal conductivity: With thermal applications, aluminum is a better option for high thermal conductivity. For example, aluminum would be a better option for a heat sink. However, where heat resistance is the top priority, titanium is the better choice. As mentioned earlier, titanium has a high melting point. For this reason, titanium is used in aerospace engine components to combat against extreme temperatures.
- Cost: When comparing the costs of the two elements, titanium is the more expensive option. The cost of extracting and purifying titanium is much higher compared to aluminum. Titanium is more expensive than aluminum since it’s a more rare metal. The other factor is that titanium is usually found bonded with other elements and the cost of separating is more expensive. In fact, about half of the cost of titanium is processing related.
The bottom line is that both aluminum and titanium can be the best material choice depending on the application and industry. The best choice will also depend on which factor is most important in a project, like cost or strength. Whether it’s aerospace parts or food and beverage packaging, titanium and aluminum are two elements that you’ll surely find.
Recycling Aluminum and Titanium
Although these metals are relatively easy to find, it is equally important to recycle them. Recycling benefits the environment and overall society in general. Aluminum is among the top metals to be recycled and requires a simple recycling process. More than 90% of the energy needed to make new aluminum can be saved during the aluminum recycling process. And aluminum is infinitely recyclable, meaning this process can be repeated without end.
Titanium can also be recycled with little loss in quality. Recycling titanium can be cheaper than mining new metal, making this a profitable and eco-friendly option.
Sell Your Scrap Metal With Liberty Iron & Metal
If you have spare aluminum, titanium or other metal scrap, we at Liberty Iron & Metal can pay you and recycle these materials. If you are a business owner and your processes produce scrap metal, it is important to make sure all your metal waste is being recycled the correct way.
We buy your scrap and recycle it, so in addition to helping the environment with your recycling, you can earn cash on the spot. Review our services page to see the different types of metal we accept. If you are located in Phoenix, AZ or Erie, PA, contact us today. We are happy to help get scrap metal off your hands!