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Thread: Advantages of titanium?

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    Default Advantages of titanium?

    What are the advantages of making a light out of titanium vs. aluminum? Titanium is less conductive and has worse heat-transfer. I expected one would be the titanium being lighter, as titanium has a much higher strength to weight ratio, but titanium flashlights tend to be significantly heavier than their aluminum counterparts. What gives?

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    I think there is a bit of a bling factor when it come to titanium lights but titanium can also be reworked and polished to better than new. I can't remember the thread now but IIRC a titanium light had a run in with the road and the pictures of the light after the owner repolished it were amazing. An aluminum light will do the same job as a titanium one but it will show scratches and once the anodizing is scarred, a consumer can never make it look as good as new.
    Last edited by Oddjob; 01-05-2009 at 12:07 PM.
    I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    I like the look of raw aluminum more than raw titanium, although I'm not quite sure, since I only have one tiny titanium light.
    Last edited by Guy's Dropper; 01-05-2009 at 06:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oddjob View Post
    bling
    That's about it.

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    *Flashaholic* Sgt. LED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    A little lighter than steel?

    Honestly I have no Ti.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    The only piece of titanium I have is my wedding ring. For the most part, titanium flashlights are just plain cool.

    Just like women like diamonds and gold and platinum when cheaper materials shine just as bright, some men have a thing for titanium.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    For flashlights, Ti is basically just for bling. Of course Ti is more durable and corrosion resistant, but I have never heard of a robust Al flashlight wearing through. Ti is better than Al in seawater, but for the size of the typical custom Ti flashlight (1xCR123 or smaller), they would not be used for a main dive light anyway. I don't think anyone is really utilizing the inherent toughness of Ti over Al in a flashlight application. Maybe deflecting bullets?

    Ti does have some considerable disadvantages when used for LED flashlights, such as much lower heat conductivity and cost. Also, Ti threads are gritty feeling and not nearly as smooth as Al or SS.

    That said, my favorite lights are still Ti which goes to show that there is more to a good flashlight than just materials or pure output power.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    My next light will be Titanium. I have been obsessed with the metal ever since a portion of my skull has been replaced with Titanium.
    Nitecore D10,Fenix TK11,
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    Flashaholic* Cydonia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    The sad thing is that all the Ti lights I've seen in pictures and read about would probably be no tougher than an off the shelf Inova X5. I swear that one of these sapphire lens Ti lights would cease to function if dropped on a concrete floor a few times. Still just fragile little circuit boards and drivers inside...
    A light is only as strong as its weakest link... which are circuits and batteries.
    For the last few decades Hollywood movies and TV shows have hyped up Titanium to the point where the masses think it is endowed with supernatural properties

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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    The only titanium object I have thus far is my coffee cup:



    When I do get a Ti light, I'll probably look into getting it TiCN coated; I dig the 9.5-Mohs-scale bling..

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    When I do get a Ti light, I'll probably look into getting it TiCN coated; I dig the 9.5-Mohs-scale bling..
    Now that's a good idea, I like that. Prettier than polished Ti or TiN, IMO.

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    Flashaholic* brighterisbetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Isn't Ti also known for maintaining it's structural integrity under load? Cruzer flash drives a while back made the Titanium series where the cases themselves had migrated from either plastic or aluminum to titanium. I believe it was touted that the crush force exceeded 2000 pounds.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by brighterisbetter View Post
    Isn't Ti also known for maintaining it's structural integrity under load? Cruzer flash drives a while back made the Titanium series where the cases themselves had migrated from either plastic or aluminum to titanium. I believe it was touted that the crush force exceeded 2000 pounds.
    So, what kind of loads do your flashlights typically encounter? The most mine see are self-imposed from the crushing force of the McGizmo Ti clip.

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    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by brighterisbetter View Post
    Isn't Ti also known for maintaining it's structural integrity under load?
    Thanks to creative flashaholics who helped abuse-test the Fenix T1 back when it first came out, we know that a good aluminum flashlight will withstand ~20,000 lbs. So a Ti light (grade 5) will have a crush resistance somewhere around ~100,000 lbs.

    That means not only could you run over the Ti light with a semi truck, but you could remove some wheels from the semi and repeat the test, the light would be unfazed.

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    Flashaholic* brighterisbetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    Thanks to creative flashaholics who helped abuse-test the Fenix T1 back when it first came out...
    Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder, here's the YouTube LINK.

    And for a bit further reading, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium
    Last edited by brighterisbetter; 01-04-2009 at 11:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cydonia View Post
    The sad thing is that all the Ti lights I've seen in pictures and read about would probably be no tougher than an off the shelf Inova X5. I swear that one of these sapphire lens Ti lights would cease to function if dropped on a concrete floor a few times. Still just fragile little circuit boards and drivers inside...
    A light is only as strong as its weakest link... which are circuits and batteries.
    I've dropped some of my titanium/sapphire McGizmo's quite a few times(hardwood floors, asphalt, stone floor tiles, etc.) No failures so far
    I don't know if they're as tough as Inova's, but they're not fragile, that's for sure!

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    Flashaholic* MarNav1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Bling.
    Reality is usually scoffed at and illusion is usually king. But in the battle for survival of western civilization it will be reality and not illusion or delusion that determines what the future will bring.

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    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Titanium is better for custom makers for a few reasons:
    - people who are interested in super-premium flashlights seem to prefer Ti
    - Ti does not need to be anodized or coated -- non-HA Al is softer than Ti and deforms more readily, and non-Chemkoted/similar Al has higher electrical resistance than Ti (Ti does not oxidize as readily as Al, and oxidized Al has high electrical resistance) -- while it may be far cheaper for SF to use Al and do HA in-house a custom maker does not have this option and has to ship parts out (and worry about loss)
    - Ti is lighter than a lot of other metals that could be chosen for corrosion resistance and hardness, stainless for instance
    - According to McGizmo it becomes more economical over Al for smaller runs, probably due to the need for a coating
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Sorry...duplicate post.
    Last edited by MKLight; 01-05-2009 at 01:58 AM. Reason: Re: Duplicate post.

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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Very interesting! Excellent summary! Thank you, Carrot!!!

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post
    Titanium is better for custom makers for a few reasons:
    - people who are interested in super-premium flashlights seem to prefer Ti
    - Ti does not need to be anodized or coated -- non-HA Al is softer than Ti and deforms more readily, and non-Chemkoted/similar Al has higher electrical resistance than Ti (Ti does not oxidize as readily as Al, and oxidized Al has high electrical resistance) -- while it may be far cheaper for SF to use Al and do HA in-house a custom maker does not have this option and has to ship parts out (and worry about loss)
    - Ti is lighter than a lot of other metals that could be chosen for corrosion resistance and hardness, stainless for instance
    - According to McGizmo it becomes more economical over Al for smaller runs, probably due to the need for a coating

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    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Just for "bling"?

    OK. No.

    Yes, Ti doesn't conduct heat quite as well as Al, and has a slightly higher electrical resistance than Al. True. But irrelevant. It conducts both heat and electricity more than well enough for the demands being placed upon it by any small, reasonable wattage flashlight. I mean, by these arguments, we should all be using copper because it is more conductive than aluminum! Give me a break! I mean, yes, if you are absolutely pushing the envelope and are forcing a lot of current through a bunch of high powered LED's, then, no, you don't want a Titanium head. But short of that, the lower heat conductivity of Titanium has little effect on the total heat transfer situation, and that's because the bottleneck for heat transfer is at the air/body junction (or hand/body junction), which involves not just conductive heat transfer but also radiative heat transfer (where Ti does quite well!), and where the heat transfer rate is the lowest of the whole system.

    It's like saying that we need a five lane highway going up to a one lane bridge because a four lane highway doesn't carry as much traffic as a five lane highway. HELLO! It doesn't frigging matter because all the cars are backed up at the bridge anyway.

    This is why heat sinks have all those fins on them to increase the surface area, which is like adding more lanes to the bridge, and it's also why the aluminum on heat sinks is anodized. The anodizing has a really crappy heat conductivity, but that is a trade off in order to gain a greater radiative heat transfer via a higher emissivity rating.

    So yes, there's no question that if heat transfer really were a serious concern (like in a heat sink), you wouldn't use Titanium, but it's also true that heat transfer at the flashlight body is NOT a serious concern. At the LED die/heat sink junction, the story is different, and you want aluminum there, and all the Titanium lights I know of do indeed have aluminum heat sinks in contact with the LED dies, but after that, Titanium is no problem.

    As for electrical conductivity, the amount of material involved in the conduction pathway is enormous--way, way bigger than electrical house wiring rated for 20 amps!--so the total resistance of both a titanium and aluminum bodied flashlight is so low as to be irrelevant.

    But, what IS relevant in terms of electrical conductivity is contact resistance, and it's the reason why almost all aluminum lights are Chemkoted. They have to be. A bare aluminum to bare aluminum interface is prone to developing very high resistance, especially if it comes in contact with various elements. If I go out right now to a bunch of bar stock and try to measure the resistance of a length of it with a DMM, I would put my money on the titanium bar over the aluminum bar any frickin day of the week! That aluminum will probably have a high resistance surface film--an oxide. No fun.

    Titanium, in sharp contrast, has a surface oxide that is nicely conductive.

    So, no need to Chemkote. It's conductive through and through.

    As for "bling", well, yes, Titanium does look and feel awesome. I (and many others) love it. But practically speaking, there is a much greater advantage to be gained in using titanium than looks: durability. If I drop an HA light onto concrete or any other hard surface chances are good I'll knock off a flake of hard anodize. This simply can't be repaired. Knock off enough of it, and the soft aluminum underneath wears away relatively quickly. Think I'm exaggerating? I used to think this line of argument was hyperbole too, at one point, but then I saw what had become of my brother's Arc AAA-LE. Almost all the HA was missing from it, and the bare aluminum there on the knurling points was worn away, leaving a very shiny, pretty smooth, and fairly ugly looking Arc AAA. And this was only three years of EDC carry on a keychain. Not really what I had expected from the vaunted HARD ANODIZE.

    As McGizmo said in another thread--and I totally agree--it's nice to know that you will stop using a light because you got tired of it, and not because it got tired and worn. Titanium, being one thing through and through, can be completely resurfaced and reworked, even after a horrific marring and deformation of the surface. Here's a great example. Here are a pair of before and after pictures of a light which was being carried when the person got in a motorcycle accident. (The important thing is that he wasn't seriously injured, BTW) Check out what happened to his Ti-PD:



    Nasty marks on the light! Not really very appealing. But, after some filing and sanding and metal working and polishing, look what happened:



    Try that with an aluminum HA light!

    Titanium is just a very, very appealing metal, both visually and tactilely. It looks great, it feels great. If that's "bling", well, OK, sign me up. But it's really not "bling". Bling is just "man jewelry", and a titanium light is far more than just that. You know that your Titanium light is going to last. Yes, if the circuit board is crap and isn't properly secured and you smack your light onto concrete, titanium won't make a bit of difference, but at least in the case of a McGizmo light you know that that link in the chain is just as well forged as all the other links in the chain.

    I have dropped my LunaSol 20 onto a very very hard surface (ceramic) and it was completely unfazed and unaffected. Don's Titanium lights are known for being very drop resistant in general, in fact.

    So . . .

    Do you need to use Titanium? No. And you shouldn't use it if cost is a factor.

    But if cost is no object do you want a titanium light over an HA aluminum light? HELL YES! But that's just me, I guess.

    I wonder, though, how many of the anti-titanium posters here on CPF have actually used and handled a titanium light for more than a few minutes? It seems to me that most people who experience a titanium light aren't really interested in going back and find the extra expense to be well worth it.

    Just a thought. YMMV.
    Last edited by js; 07-29-2014 at 01:32 AM. Reason: fix image links
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by brighterisbetter View Post
    Isn't Ti also known for maintaining it's structural integrity under load? Cruzer flash drives a while back made the Titanium series where the cases themselves had migrated from either plastic or aluminum to titanium. I believe it was touted that the crush force exceeded 2000 pounds.
    That may have been part of the reason, but the more important reason for using titanium in these situations is that it holds up much better to repeated stress reversals. In other words, take a paper clip and bend in one direction. OK, no problem. Bend it some more in the same direction. Still no problem. But, start repeatedly reversing directions and you've got a problem. The metal at the stress point rearranges itself and becomes highly brittle there and snaps. Most steel and aluminum alloys are both prone to this.

    Titanium and its alloys hold up better, in general, in these situations. And also in any situations, like for an aircraft landing strut, where there is repeated impact stress.

    This is why titanium is considered highly durable, and why the highest grade bolts and fasteners are made from titanium.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

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    *Flashaholic* easilyled's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Very convincing argument js.

    However you have forgotten by far the most important advantage of Aluminium which is:-

    I wouldn't feel nearly as bad if I lost an Al light compared to losing a Ti light.
    Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine

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    Moderator js's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    easilyled,

    Indeed! But I can see from your sigline that that hasn't deterred you from owning some pretty freaking spectacular Ti lights!

    everyone,

    One more little advantage of using a Titanium body, which Don mentioned in the last thread on this subject:

    If the LED heatsink is made from aluminum, and the body is made from Titanium, then as the aluminum heat sink heats up in use, its great coefficient of expansion vs. titanium means that that mechanical junction gets mated all the better due to the increased force of the aluminum heat sink as it tries to expand against the titanium body. This ensures an excellent thermal joint at this junction. Nice little side benefit of using a titanium body.
    -Jim Sexton, creator of the M6-R, the TigerLight Upgrades, Fixture-ring lamp potting, the SL60, co-designer of the B90 Upgrade, and proponent of the SF A2, the SF M6 X-LOLA, Titanium, the Haiku, and the LunaSol 20

  26. #26
    Flashaholic AA6TZ's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post

    Read carrot's post here
    +1 Every statement spot-on correct, Sir. Very well done!
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    Flashaholic* Oddjob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    These are the pictures I was referring to. Thanks JS.

    Quote Originally Posted by js View Post
    Just for "bling"? ...

    ...Here's a great example. Here are a pair of before and after pictures of a light which was being carried when the person got in a motorcycle accident. (The important thing is that he wasn't seriously injured, BTW) Check out what happened to his Ti-PD:



    Nasty marks on the light! Not really very appealing. But, after some filing and sanding and metal working and polishing, look what happened:



    Try that with an aluminum HA light!...
    Last edited by js; 07-29-2014 at 01:32 AM. Reason: fix image links
    I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    1.Titanium the most corrosion resistant industrial metal.Virtually acid & salt water proof.

    2.Titanium is lighter than steel.

    3.Titanium(6Al4V) is stronger than all but speciality alloy steels.

    4. Although Titanium is slightly heavier than aluminum it is much stronger,corrosion & abrasion resistant than any Aluminum grade.

    5. Titanium has a unique exotic precision aircraft look that is like no other metal.

    6. Titanium is a refractory metal in some alloys has great strength under high heat.

    Wade Nye

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wardind View Post
    1.Titanium the most corrosion resistant industrial metal.Virtually acid & salt water proof.

    2.Titanium is lighter than steel.

    3.Titanium(6Al4V) is stronger than all but speciality alloy steels.

    4. Although Titanium is slightly heavier than aluminum it is much stronger,corrosion & abrasion resistant than any Aluminum grade.

    5. Titanium has a unique exotic precision aircraft look that is like no other metal.

    6. Titanium is a refractory metal in some alloys has great strength under high heat.

    Wade Nye
    It again come back to that none of the advantages will come into play as far as flashlight is concerned, except in very rare freak accident like JS posted.

  30. #30
    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Advantages of titanium?

    Just don't clean the threads with methanol....

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