Bugatti announced that it successfully created a “test” supercar with a top speed of 310 mph and can accelerate from 0-186 mph in just 7.37 seconds. To put this performance into perspective, the 2017 Porsche 911 takes 11.9 seconds to achieve just 120 mph.

What makes this outperformance possible? First, it has an ultra powerful engine (1,824 horse power). Second, it is ultra light weight, weighing in at only 2,733 lbs.

One major driver of the vehicle’s light weight is its use of titanium in the form of screws, fastening elements and 3D-printed thin-walled functional components.

Titanium has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any known metal. The material gets its outstanding strength-to-weight ratio from several physical properties. Specifically, titanium only weighs about 4.5 times more than water versus steel which weighs in at about 8 times the weight of water. Titanium’s low weight is driven by its atom’s wide shell which results in fewer atoms being packed into a fixed space.

In addition to being lighter than steel, titanium can withstand both higher and lower temperatures. Also, titanium is not as toxic as steel.

Common Uses of Titanium

Due to the substantial cost associated with producing titanium, the material is only used when the strength-to-weight ratio is necessary. Examples of common uses are:

  • Aircraft parts (aircrafts naturally demand both low weight levels and significant strength)
  • Desalination plants (heat exchangers) due to the metal’s outstanding resistance to corrosion
  • Surgical instruments
  • Various surgical implants
  • High end bikes, tennis rackets and other recreational equipment

Common Titanium Grades

  • 6AI-4V can withstand up to 600°F although with limited hardenability
  • 6AI-4V ELI has moderately high tensile strength and good fatigue strength
  • CP1 is stronger than CP2 and CP3 but has low ductility
  • CP2 is stronger than CP3 and CP4 but at the expense of formability
  • CP3 has only moderate strength but excellent welding and forming capabilities
  • CP4 has low strength but very high resistance to impact and corrosion

More detail related to titanium grades, specs and applications can be found here.