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Motorsport Fabrication Fundamentals: Titanium

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00:00 - One of the newest metals in motorsport and arguably the one that creates the most excitement in the pits is titanium.
00:06 In its pure form, this material is known for its low density and high strength which further improves when it's alloyed with various elements like aluminium, vanadium, chromium, zirconium, molybdenum, paladium, iron and oxygen.
00:21 To put these properties in perspective, titanium is about 45% lighter than steel, 60% heavier than aluminium and more than 3 times stronger than either of them.
00:33 Titanium is difficult to produce and therefore expensive to buy but with that said, while it is an expensive metal, it's still widely used in the aerospace, medical, military and motorsport industries because of its unmatched performance.
00:47 High strength and low weight is only the beginning of titanium's positive attributes though as it also has excellent resistance to corrosion and an extremely high melting point at 1650°C.
00:59 Like aluminium, titanium produces its own oxide layer to protect itself from corrosion.
01:05 If this layer is removed then it'll reform very quickly, effectively repairing itself and fending off further corrosion.
01:12 Titanium is widely used in the higher end categories of motorsport, thanks to its ability to deliver extreme weight savings, without losing any strength.
01:21 Products like fasteners, exhausts, scatter shields and internal high stress engine components like conrods, make up the bulk usage of this material in motorsport.
01:31 There are over 30 grades of commercially available titanium, 4 of which are pure unalloyed material known as grade 1, 2, 3 and 4 and are widely used in the medical industry.
01:43 WIthout going through all of the grades available, there are a few worth mentioning due to their specific usage in motorsport applications.
01:51 TI6AL4V contains 6% aluminium, 4% vanadium, 0.25% iron and 0.2% oxygen and the remainder, pure titanium.
02:03 This grade possesses a high strength to weight ratio and excellent corrosion resistance.
02:08 It's one of the most commonly used titanium alloys in motorsport and it counts for around half of all the titanium usage around the world.
02:17 This grade is also a common alloy used in additive manufacturing for 3D printing where it provides exceptional strength for the weight.
02:25 As with all metals, strength can sometimes limit the ductility and flexibility of the part we're wanting to produce.
02:31 This is especially apparent in titanium where the material strength may not allow the flex that we need for a certain component.
02:38 This is where titanium grade 9 TI 3AL 2.5V can offer the perfect alternative for motorsport fabrication.
02:48 This is a common form of titanium tube that uses 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium elements.
02:54 It still has exceptional strength to weight characteristics that can handle a little more movement due to its increased malleability.
03:01 Fabricating with titanium requires some care, especially when machining or drilling as it's extremely important to have sharp tools and to adhere to the speeds and feeds recommended.
03:12 This is because the number one issue with machining titanium is heat as that'll make the cutting surface extremely hard and almost certainly destroy whatever you're trying to machine it with.
03:23 For this reason, we need to decrease our RPM and make sure that we're cutting using coolant.
03:28 If we get it right, it'll cut like any old steel and you'll be wondering what all the fuss is about.
03:33 Welding titanium must also be done with care and as with any strong and attractive weld, this requires the right preparation and the right setup procedure.
03:42 TIG welding is the only choice for titanium and offers us the most control over the weld.
03:48 Because of this material strength, we're usually working with materials with very thin wall thicknesses and that requires the fine current control that only a TIG welder can offer.
03:58 If you've seen titanium welds before, you're probably picturing all of those purple and blue colours that you normally see on any exotic titanium part but this is actually a sign of atmospheric contamination.
04:10 Titanium is known as a reactive metal and contamination can occur through the welding procedure if oxygen is presented to the heat affected zone.
04:19 We can minimise this contamination by employing a lot more shielding gas to the areas we're welding when compared to welding the likes of steel.
04:27 Commonly used when welding titanium is a large TIG cup which widens our shielded gas zone, longer pre and post flow of our shielding gas to allow the titanium to cool while still being shielded from the atmosphere, and gas purging which provides protection to the back side of the weld.
04:44 If this is all done correctly, then the actual welding work isn't any different to stainless steel.
04:50 Because titanium creates a shielding layer of oxide like aluminium, we're also able to anodise and colour the parts, however most titanium is left in its natural state.
05:01 In some instances, parts like fasteners and exhausts are preheated to 300°C to begin the natural colour change that titanium produces.
05:10 With a little care and preparation, the use of titanium in our project shouldn't be discounted and the increasing availability of pre cut titanium parts like pie cuts, which are sections of straight tube cut on angles that can be used to make inlet pipes, exhausts and all sorts of items on our cars, make the job much easier.

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