Titanium is a chemical element of group 4 of the periodic table. A silvery-gray and lightweight metal, titanium is known for its high strength and anti-corrosion properties. You will typically find titanium in high-speed aircraft parts, jewelry, the medical industry, the military and many others.
The History of Titanium:
Titanium was first discovered in 1791 by a geologist Rev. William Gregor and pure titanium was first produced in 1910 by American metallurgist Matthew A. Hunter. In 1932 titanium metal was first used outside the laboratory.
In the 1950’s and 60’s the Soviet Union pioneered the use of this metal in aerospace and defense applications during the Cold War and were it’s largest producer. Meanwhile on the US side titanium was considered a strategic material which extended throughout the period of the Cold War by the government. The government (namely the Defense National Stockpile Center) maintained a large stockpile of titanium sponge until it was finally depleted in the 2000s.
An alloy is a metal that contains the primary metal (titanium in this case) with a small percentage of other elements. Titanium alloys still have high strength and corrosion resistance properties, but thanks to the other metals it also has increased malleability. Some of the Ti alloys used in knife making are:
Grade 5 Titanium: The most common titanium alloy and the most commonly used in aerospace parts, sports equipment, and marine applications.
Ti Beta-C: known as Beta C Titanium, it is a heat-treatable, deep section hardenable (with a maximum hardness of HRC 42), very high strength Ti alloy possessing good toughness/strength properties, low elastic modulus and elevated resistance to stress and localized corrosion in high temperature sweet and sour brines.
In the blade world, titanium has been used for over twenty years, mainly due to the boom in the tactical knife genre in the early 1990s.
Ti6Al4V Grade 5 titanium alloy:
Ti6Al4V Grade 5 titanium is considered the "workhorse" of the Ti alloys and the most frequently used. It has a wide use in the aerospace industry, high-end sporting goods, medical implants and the aerospace industry. It is specifically formulated to be flexible, resistant to deformation and to prevent cracking and breaking.
Unfortunately grade 5 titanium alloy is NOT a good substitute for a working knife blade and is generally not recommended for a utility / hard use knife as it does not hold an edge for repeated use. But a Grade 5 titanium alloy blade will excel as a tactical / last ditch everyday carry (EDC) knife or tool for short-term cutting or used in hot (sweaty) or marine environments. Titanium alloy is NOT a good substitute for a working knife blade because it is not hard-enabled to adequate levels. Grade 5 titanium is softer (Rockwell Hardness C of 36) than hardened steel knife blades (Rockwell Hardness C range of 55-61) so a titanium blade will not hold an edge for repeated use because of the lack of carbides.
BLADETRICKS TITANIUM KNIVES AND TOOLS:
Even though titanium is an expensive blade material and it is hard to work with I consider that this interesting metal has its niche in knife making. That is the reason why I frequently make knives and tools in titanium. Many returning customers also ask custom versions of their previously purchased Bladetricks (steel) products to be made in titanium.
Being aware of its limitations, a good titanium knife is an excellent choice for someone who wants an everyday carry custom knife or tool he will be only using in very limited situations (emergency, last ditch, self defense life threatening). Its lightness and stainless properties offer unmatched ease of carry and it can be shaving sharp.
You can find more of my Bladetricks titanium knives and tools on my website and on my Pinterest gallery.
(All my blades can be customized to tailor customer's needs)