The use of titanium in piping offers superior strength, rigidity, resistance to corrosion and lightness as compared to alternative metals.
Pipes constructed of titanium metal and titanium alloys offer twice the strength of copper, steel and aluminum with only 50% of the material volume. This low density material offers spatial savings significant to plumbing, flow tube and exhaust environments where space is often limited. These benefits outweigh the elevated initial cost of titanium which is a direct result of the processes necessary to extract it from ores such as Rutile and Ilmenite.
Military, marine, petrochemical, chemical and food processing, medical, automotive, transit, aerospace, agricultural, construction, electrical and paper and pulp industries all utilize titanium pipes in a number of applications such as heat exchangers, handrails and high end automotive fuel lines. The extreme tolerance for corrosive materials of this particular type of metal reduces the potential risk of dangerous line corrosion, valve breakages and leaks in industries where volatile chemicals are processed. The resilience of titanium likewise reduces maintenance while extending product longevity.
Pipe manufacturers buy titanium that has been pre-processed, making it suitable for secondary fabrication. While a variety of stock shapes are available, titanium sheets are the most applicable to pipe construction. These sheets are formed into long hollow tubes, which may have round, oval, square or rectangular cross sections. Extrusion, cold drawing or rolling and welding processes yield these structures. The intended use must be taken into consideration before selecting a particular technique. Welding, for example leaves a seam along the edge of the pipe that would not be suitable for some applications. The pipes are then processed to fit specific product demands and requirements.
Cutting, for example, is needed to ensure proper and standard pipe lengths. Bending, flaring and swaging are additional processes in titanium pipe manufacturing. The variable processing methods require a great deal of consideration with regards to the intended goal of a piece of piping. Additional considerations include the maximum pressure and temperature range, flexibility, optional lining and plating, interior diameter and shell thickness of titanium piping. The titanium grade should also be one of the most important considerations as these influence not only the mechanical and chemical qualities of the finished product, but also the necessary manufacturing methods which can be extremely energy intensive for purer titanium.