Compared Titanium and Aluminum Metals for 3D Printing and Machining
When selecting the right metal material for parts, certain characteristics come to mind. For example, weight and strength are such features. Titanium and aluminum tick of these essential boxes. Additionally, they have great tolerance to heat and resistance to corrosion. Thus, at Creatingway, we have integrated their use in 3D printing and machining. Both metals have proven to be quite versatile in making a vast range of parts for many industries. Here is more insight into the properties and uses of titanium and aluminum metals materials.
Titanium and Aluminum Metals Properties
When comparing cost, aluminum metals are more cost-effective for 3D printing or machining. However, titanium still gets value in the long run despite its high cost. You can get lightweight parts that result in lower fuel costs in the transportation industry. Also, titanium parts last longer when compared to aluminum parts.
Both titanium and aluminum metals have great corrosion resistance. Also, the lack of reactivity seen in titanium makes it useful for the medical industry. It is among the most biocompatible metal. Thus, it serves in surgical instrumentation making.
Strength and Weight
Both titanium and aluminum are light, but for different reasons. Aluminum has a low density of 2.7 g/cm3. Thus, it is lighter when compared to other metals such as steel that is times heavier. In the case of titanium, it is two thirds heavier than aluminum. But, because it poses greater strength, we require less of it. A fraction of the titanium amount gets about the same strength as aluminum. Thus, it is important for making spacecraft and jet engines.
Parts such as a heat sink that need a high thermal conductivity can benefit from aluminum. But, parts that need high-temperature use, such as aerospace engine parts, benefit from titanium. It possesses a high melting temperature, making a first-rate option.
Titanium is among the most common metals on earth. However, it is hard to process due to its high melting point. This makes it have a high initial cost of processing and machining. Despite this, titanium has a high strength to weight ratio. With its low melting point, it possesses low thermal expansion when exposed to heat. Additionally, instead of absorbing heat, it reflects it. Thus, you can find titanium being used in Low-E windows. In these parts, it bounces back warm infrared rays from the sun.
In terms of appearance, the color of titanium varies depending on the finish. A raw finish gets you a dull gray color on your part. While a smooth finish will form a shiny silver color.
Aluminum metals are also one of the most common materials on earth. Due to its thin oxide layer, it becomes corrosion-free. Also, its lightweight makes it a great option for making light parts. However, it may corrode when exposed to alkaline environments and not acidic ones. Generally, aluminum is useful in making aircraft and building material that does not bear weight. Aluminum 6061 is great for making fishing reels, SCUBA tanks, small boats, bicycle frames, and vehicle frames. Aluminum 7075 is the stronger version making it useful for making plastic and tool molds and aircraft frames. Also, due to its great heat-conducting ability, it can make great hat sinks.
3D Print Titanium and Aluminum
DMLS is a form of the additive manufacturing process. It stands for Direct Metal Laser Sintering. The process works by welding powdered metal together with the help of a laser. Thus, it forms parts layer by layer. The main advantage of using DMLS is the ability to make parts with extremely complex geometries. For example, mesh-like structures and honeycomb design. Machining doesn’t even come close to DMLS’s flexibility in design regardless of the metal.
DMLS allows the use of powdered metal to make parts. This means we end up virtually not wasting any metal. Thus, it reduces titanium’s cost. Despite the manufacturing cost of DMLS being considerably higher, it delivers value in the parts made. The parts made are both lightweight and high strength.
Machining Titanium and Aluminum Metals
CNC turning and milling have been tried and tested as the ideal ways of machining titanium and aluminum parts. The processes are fast with the capability of producing parts in less than a day. They can also maintain tolerances of up to +/- 0.005 inches. Aluminum stands out as an ideal choice when you need prototype parts fast. It is due to its low cost and high quality. However, in terms of geometric capabilities, it is difficult to machine extremely complex designs. Therefore, we have come up with a solution using DMLS to form any material of your choosing.
One should also consider the amount of waste produced during machining when selecting the material. The inexpensive aluminum is fine with milling away excess material. Thus, it is a better option for making prototypes. However, the production of a lot of waste is not ideal for costly titanium. This makes it more suited for the production of parts instead.
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