Titanium is a high-strength element that is used for a wide variety of purposes, including applications in the medical field, aerospace engineering, automotive engineering, and more. Etched titanium parts are also very resistant to corrosion and temperature extremes, making them even more suitable for these fields. For this reason, etching titanium parts through a company such as Photofabrication Engineering Inc. has increased in demand.
One complication for etching titanium is the fact that it is resistant to corrosion, making it resistant to etching by many acids. For the most part, when etching titanium parts, hydrofluoric acid is used. Hydrofluoric acid has long been used to dissolve glass, and it has a moderate effect on most metals, so it must be stored in plastic containers. Hydrofluoric acid is considered a weak acid, but not in the common sense of the world – it simply means that it does not fully ionize in a dilute aqueous solution. Hydrofluoric acid still presents a significant danger on contact with human skin.
The acid is also often used because of how hard the titanium is. It is so strong that it eats away at any tools used on it, so most companies that etch titanium parts have to figure out a solution to properly etch the titanium without destroying their equipment. It is often possible to use other acids while etching titanium parts (due to the hazardous nature of hydrofluoric acid), but it is not necessary.
Titanium etching has also grown in the wake of the aerospace industry, which is the number one consumer of the metal. Aside from its corrosion resistance and temperature resistance, titanium alloys are also fairly light considering the strength of the metal, making them excellent for aerospace engineering. In fact, it is not just commercial aerospace companies that use the metal, but also the military aerospace industry.
Most aircraft in the military require an enormous amount of titanium to build, so it is no shock that it should be the highest sector of titanium consumption. Another benefit to continuing to consume titanium is the effect that using the metal has on the fuel draw of aircraft. Its light weight enables it to be more fuel-efficient than other metals for aircraft, while its strength allows it to hold up against the vast atmospherical difference several thousand feet in the air.
Titanium is even used in the internal parts of an aircraft as well, not just on the outside. Its strength makes it a perfect candidate for an aircraft’s engine, and it has also been used for internal parts for automobiles. Titanium also has applications in missiles and in space, making it an element with many diverse uses despite the fact that it is so difficult to etch. In fact, were the aerospace industry to collapse, titanium manufacturers themselves would go out of business because of how dependent the two industries are on each other. If one falls, then so does the other. Because of the boom in the aerospace industry, however, titanium etching is on the rise.