Distributors, retailers, manufacturers and metal finishing industries buy titanium in varying stages of fabrication. These can include mill products or completed parts. Titanium metal is an extremely strong, low density and highly corrosion resistant substance that is sought after in a variety of industries for these physical properties.
In its pure form, titanium is comparably the same strength as steel and yet 45% lighter, and it is twice as strong as aluminum and copper with only a 60% increase in volume. Additionally, titanium is very ductile and has good electrical conductivity, features which allow its use in military, medical, automotive, aerospace, desalinization, petrochemical, chemical and food processing, transit, agricultural, construction, electrical and paper and pulp industries. Depending upon specific needs, titanium can be bought in mill product form or in more finished stages of production. Mill products offer a wide range of stock shapes such as titanium bars, rods, sheets, plates, and foils which may then undergo secondary processing as needed. Alternatively, suppliers offer finished products such as titanium pipes and tubing which come ready for installation. While pure titanium is used in either case, it is extremely hard which adds difficulty and expense to fabrication. For this reason, many companies offer titanium alloys, the mixed composition of which retains many of the desirable characteristics of pure titanium but is more manageable.
Although titanium is the ninth most abundant element, making up 0.57% of the Earth's crust, it is never found in pure form. Instead, titanium is found in ores, or mineral deposits, such as Rutile, Ilmenite and Sphene. The most common extraction technique is the Kroll method. This involves forming titanium tetrachloride through fractional distillation. This substance is then reduced to useable metallic titanium using magnesium. The resulting highly porous yield is referred to as a sponge. The titanium sponge may then be melted or pressed into castings which form foil, sheets, wire, granules, bars or powders that, pure or alloyed, are distributed to manufacturers. Hot or cold forming, flat rolling, extrusion, welding, machining, casting, wrought, forging and spinning processes can be used individually or in conjunction with other techniques to transform stock shapes into final products. Manufacturing companies buy either plating anodes, which are used in plating or electroplating processes, or sacrificial anodes, which are used to protect base structures. While size and production processes are important considerations, titanium grades should be regarded to ensure the proper alloy or pure metal is selected for a given task. Quality monitoring and testing are often inherent in the production of titanium products, and certification is commonly provided upon purchase of titanium.