Both titanium and stainless steel are used extensively across a wide range of consumer and industrial applications. This article explores the primary differences in addition to providing an overview of various stainless steel applications.
Density measures a material’s mass per unit volume. The density of a typical stainless steel is 8.0 g/cm^3 (304) versus only 4.43 g/cm^3 for titanium (Ti-6Al-4V). To put these two data points into perspective, aluminum’s density is only around 2.7 g/cm^3. Titanium’s low density make it an ideal choice for weight-dependent applications.
Elasticity is a measure of how flexible a material is. In other words, it measures how easy it is to bend/warp a material without deformation. Stainless steel’s typical elasticity is ~200 GPa versus titanium’s ~115 GPa. Titanium’s low elasticity makes it difficult to machine relative to stainless steel.
Stensile strength measures the maximum stress that a structure can sustain. Stainless steel’s tensile strength is 485 MPa versus titanium’s 480 MPa. For some additional perspective, aluminum has an MPa of only 90 and copper’s MPa is only 200.
The key thing to note here is that while stainless steel has more overall strength, titanium has more strength per unit mass. As a result, if overall strength is the primary driver of an application decision stainless steel is generally the best choice. If weight is a major factor, titanium may be a better choice.
A material’s yield stress or yield strength is the stress at which a material starts to deform. The yield strength of stainless steel 304L is 170 MPa versus Ti-6AI-4V’s (Titanium grade) yield strength of 1100 MPa. As shown by the elasticity difference, titanium is more difficult to machine but has more strength per unit of mass.
It is also worth noting that titanium is bio-compatible while stainless steel is not making titanium the ideal choice for many medical applications.
Stainless steel is used in a wide range of applications across many industries. More specifically, stainless steel is heavily used in construction. This trend may continue as stainless steel is often comprised of high levels of recycled metal.
The automotive industry’s use of stainless steel goes back to the 1930s and that trend continues to this day. Examples of auto applications include car exhaust systems and grills.
Also, because of the metal’s resistance to corrosion, medical equipment frequently uses stainless steel. Examples include MRI scanners and a variety of dental instruments.
Lastly, the oil and gas industry benefits from stainless steel’s high strength levels. Special grades have even been developed to enhance corrosion resistance over a wider range of temperatures.
Please refer to this post to read more about common titanium applications.
Also, see the below video to learn more about the different grades of stainless:
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