Steel powders are the most commonly used metals in additive manufacturing, and while they can be adjusted to meet a wide range of requirements, other metals and compositions broaden the potential of 3D printing. We’ve already looked at the possibilities unlocked with aluminium power (Aluminium or steel – which metal powder is best for you?), but there’s another metal which is making waves in the industry.
Titanium powders are becoming more and more popular in the additive manufacturing industry, and there are a number of reasons for this. First of all, the inherent properties of the metal are that is not only strong, but also lightweight. This combination makes it ideal for many different applications from aerospace parts to car components. It actually has the highest strength to weight ratio of all known metals, and the potential of this material as a basis for additive manufacturing is only improving.
Titanium is also particularly well-suited to additive manufacturing as it is notoriously difficult to machine. Additive manufacturing allows to minimize or eliminate machining, so using the powder in the right 3D printer means you get all the benefits of titanium, without the major drawbacks.
Another important benefit is the biocompatibility of Ti and its alloys. This, in combination with low elastic modulus, are the key reasons as to why titanium is ideal for application in medical and dental implants.
Desirable performance with titanium powder
Thanks to the range of benefits that titanium powder offers, many industries are utilising this material in additive manufacturing processes. It’s still very much its own niche, so rather than replacing other materials for existing components, engineers and designers are finding optimal use cases that harness its unique properties.
It’s often found in aircraft, motor vehicles and bicycles today, not as safety-critical components but as small, complex parts that need to be strong, but can also be ways to reduce the overall weight of the equipment. This is especially the case when performance is paramount, as any weight saving can be the difference required.
Additive manufacturing allows for more complex structures which can also reduce weight and improve performance, and it’s even possible to customise to specific needs on a part-by-part basis. Take a bicycle, for instance, where some parts made from titanium powder have been designed with specific riders in mind. This can make a real positive difference to performance, and it is only possible with this technology.
It’s also highly beneficial to use titanium as a basis for medical and dental implants, as it’s one of few materials that is accepted by the human body as well as possessing the properties necessary to make it work well for the user.
Titanium, a growing trend
Titanium powder is relatively expensive, but in spite of that fact its popularity is still growing. Being corrosion resistant, strong and lightweight separates it from many other 3D printing materials, and there’s a sense that the industry will continue to find new and innovative ways to use this material.
Höganäs has a wide range of powders designed to fit various applications, and we are constantly working on new solutions which can further improve performance, material efficiency, sustainability, and the success of our customers.