Titanium lights vs their Aluminum Cousins?

GarageBoy

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So why does everyone love titanium? Is it the exotic factor? For my purposes, I think Al is lighter in weight and cheaper too. Does Titanium transfer heat better? It's strong, but this is a flashlight, not a demolition tool. If I need a light that wont dent if I drop it, I'd get stainless steel. Type III keeps corrosion off
 

Kiessling

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There are some advantages of titanium that make it worthwhile for some of us:

- very tough
- corrosion-proof, even in salt-water environments
- no need for a finish, natural ti has all the properties you want --> no scratches

Some disadvantages are:
- price and difficult to machine
- lacking in heat transfer, so hot-rodded lights are problematic


Aluminium, on the other hand, is light weight, great heat transfer and cheap as well as easy to manufacture, but it is subject to corrosion very easily and requires some coating, it is soft and not tough at all.

It is, finances and the "fancy-factor" apart, a matter of needs and preferences.

bernie
 

Hellbore

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Not to get off topic, just curious, is there any material that works better?

I read somewhere on the forums that "you can't solder to uncoated aluminum". What kind of coating can be put on aluminum that allows you to solder to it?

I'm just curious because it seems like most lights use the aluminum body as ground, but it can be problematic establishing a reliable permanent ground point because of aluminum's tendency to develop a layer of oxide. Most of my lights at some point in their life have needed either the threads or tail end cleaned to re-establish a good ground. I'm not sure how flashlight manufacturers insure a good solid ground point to the body of the light that won't become resistive over time due to corrosion.

Can anyone explain how they do it? Do they usually just use a screw into the aluminum and tie a wire to it, and is that method foolproof?

It just seems like it would be nice to have a flashlight body material that conducts heat and electricity well, but can be soldered onto. Is there such thing? Copper flashlights might not be very durable :D
 
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orcinus

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- no need for a finish, natural ti has all the properties you want --> no scratches

That's... not really completely true.
In fact, it scratches easily. Much easier than, say, high-chromium steel, as any owner of a titanium watch can atest ;)

What it does have is some VERY nifty oxides and nitrides that are quite scratch resistant.
 

Kiessling

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Yes, sorry, I meant no easily visible scratches in a coating with bare metal underneath. Ti itself scratches like hell :D ... but it doesn't matter in this context.


Hellbore ... good aluminium flashlights are chemcoated and / or completely anodised and do not use bare al parts for contact or to conduct electricity. There are other possibilities.
You can examine Surefires or early McGizmo PD lights for some nice concepts. Of course, such sophistication costs money.

It is really bad when aluminium threads carry current.

bernie
 

Hellbore

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Hellbore ... good aluminium flashlights are chemcoated and / or completely anodised and do not use bare al parts for contact or to conduct electricity.

What do they use for the electrical path from the circuitry to the aluminum then, if not bare aluminum? I know anodization does not conduct, is there some other coating that does?

I'm partly just curious, but I also want to know if there is some better way I could be doing it in my own home-brew flashlight mods.
 

Kiessling

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I can regurgitate some options I know, but I am not an engineer, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt, or two :green:

Here:
https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/85527
... is an ingenious way how McGizmo got around the aluminium tube. In this light (The McLuxIII-PD), the current does not pass through the al at all, and the body and head are completely anodised inside and out.

Then ... high end manufacturers use a chemcoat (or whatever it is called) film to stop corrosion of the aluminium.
In addition to that, Surefire avoids current passing through threads by different means. In the E-Series the current passes through the top lip of the body where there is no grease and debris, in the C-Series you got springs touching chemcoated interiors etc.

The U2 has got a metal (what metal I dunno) insert in the back.

Since I have mostly McGizmo and SF lights my POV is a bit limited though.

bernie
 

LightKnife

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Yes, sorry, I meant no easily visible scratches in a coating with bare metal underneath. Ti itself scratches like hell :D ... but it doesn't matter in this context.

bernie

You can always repolish the light to make it look like new. Ti also has this glare that is so attractive not found in S/S which looks too plain IMO. Al lights are great but i think the benefits of Ti as being corrosion resistance, its toughness and its beauty outweighs the benefits of Al chemcoated lights.

If taking the price factor out i bet everyone would be buying Ti lights even tho' they claim as aluminum being better at heat disipation properties or other properties. For todays LED application Ti is the perfect material for a flashlight as long as you drive the LED with a reasonable current. I have handled hot rods made out of Al and they are not pleasant.
 
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Beamhead

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I have owned a few Ti lights, and the only drawback for me is initial cost. You lay out big coin for a light that by no ones fault becomes antiquated by a newer brighter light.
When I find my "be all, end all" light then it will be Ti because it will last years but that light may be "unobtainium" by my ever changing standards.:p
 

LukeA

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Not to get off topic, just curious, is there any material that works better?

I read somewhere on the forums that "you can't solder to uncoated aluminum". What kind of coating can be put on aluminum that allows you to solder to it?

I'm just curious because it seems like most lights use the aluminum body as ground, but it can be problematic establishing a reliable permanent ground point because of aluminum's tendency to develop a layer of oxide. Most of my lights at some point in their life have needed either the threads or tail end cleaned to re-establish a good ground. I'm not sure how flashlight manufacturers insure a good solid ground point to the body of the light that won't become resistive over time due to corrosion.

Can anyone explain how they do it? Do they usually just use a screw into the aluminum and tie a wire to it, and is that method foolproof?

It just seems like it would be nice to have a flashlight body material that conducts heat and electricity well, but can be soldered onto. Is there such thing? Copper flashlights might not be very durable :D

You can electroplate copper onto aluminum and solder to it that way. More common in flashlights is to press fit a brass ring into the aluminum and solder to that.
 

Icebreak

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Actually, it transfers heat much much worse. So much so that it's not cold to the touch like other metals.
I did not know that. I checked and my only Ti light is not nearly as cold as my Al lights. Kinda like the opposite of diamonds.
 

kaichu dento

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I'm in the process of buying my first titanium light and for me the appeal has been that I love the appearance, which somewhat reminds me of unplated platinum.

Whether appearance enough of a reason to buy one or not, I've at least obliged myself this one primarily on appearance.
 

carrot

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To me it does not matter whether it is titanium or aluminum. Both have their own benefits and both are interest to me. However, the offering of a light in only one material has never been a deal breaker for me.

I do however, really like the look of a well-used (pocket-worn) titanium part and I consider Ti to be aesthetically superior to Al. You might as well pick up a Ti Nautilus to check it out. I handled one and found it very pleasing to use.
 

easilyled

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I have owned a few Ti lights, and the only drawback for me is initial cost. You lay out big coin for a light that by no ones fault becomes antiquated by a newer brighter light....

Ti Aleph-series lights never become antiquated.
All they require is to drop in a new L.E (or upgrade the emitter in the LE).
That is the reason I like them so much.

I agree 100% with LightKnife about the advantages of Ti vs. Al outweighing the disadvantages.

Until I held my first Ti light, I wasn't able to appreciate the beauty and solidity of the metal, and I used to argue in favour of Al.

However that changed immediately I acquired my first Ti light and now I would rather have 1 Ti light than 10 Al lights.
 
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