Titanium is known for its corrosion resistance, strength, durability, and light weight. It is commonly found in rocks, clay, sand, and soil in ilmenite and rutile. When those two minerals are processed, they produce titanium tetrachloride, which, by adding sodium, produces pure titanium.
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Applications of Titanium Etching
There is a long list of uses for titanium etchings, which include dental implants, eye surgery blades, hearing aids, cardiac rhythm management, and cranial mesh. Aerospace uses approximately 80% of all titanium produced because of its strength to weight ratio, and the chemical industry uses titanium for its resistance to chemical environments. Etched titanium has also found multiple applications in the health and medical fields due to its biocompatibility, which refers to how the metal interacts with the human body.
Material Properties of Titanium
The preparation process for titanium is complex and reactive. Until the 1950s, titanium was a laboratory curiosity. With the development of special processing methods, it became commercially available for industrial use. The unique qualities of titanium makes it a perfect metal for a variety of applications. It has half the density of iron at 4.5g/cm3 and twice the density of aluminum, with very low electrical and thermal conductivity. It is also paramagnetic, which means that it is weakly attracted to magnets. The tensile and yield strength of titanium is similar to stainless steel.
Process of Titanium Etching
There are two methods for etching titanium: hydrochloric acid and electrolytic. Hydrochloric acid (HF) is preferred because it produces excellent quality and can be serialized. The electrolytic process involves an electrolyte, anode, and cathode to remove titanium by reverse plating.
Photochemical etching produces patterns on metal by dissolving portions of the metal using an oxidizing reagent. Hydrofluoric acid, or a combination of nitric and hydrofluoric acid, are used in wet photochemical etching of titanium. The etching reagent is HF, while nitric acid contains hydrogen absorption. The ideal thickness of the sheets of titanium for etching are between 25 micrometers (µm) and 1.0 mm. The photo resistant pattern is applied to the substrate layer of the titanium sheet before chemical etching processing, which can be either negative or positive.
Benefits of Titanium Etching
The benefits to titanium etching are cost-effectiveness, limitless part complexity, and short lead times. The tooling for titanium etching can be changed and adapted easily without the need for extra preparation. Additionally, since titanium etching does not use heat or mechanical force, components do not require any after process treatments, such as deburring or flattening.