The Challenges of Welding Titanium

Titanium combines excellent corrosion resistance with the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal, a combination of properties that make is a great choice for difficult applications in demanding environments, which is why titanium is often called out for aerospace and medical uses. Titanium is optimal for medical uses, such as in artificial joints or implanted devices. It is lightweight, incredibly strong, and compounds within the human body simply don’t bond or react with it.

As titanium is basically nonreactive to most materials, it does not easily alloy with other metals — it’s almost impossible to weld titanium to any other metal. However, titanium is highly reactive with oxygen, which makes in very difficult to weld unless conditions are tightly controlled.

When exposed to oxygen, titanium quickly forms a microscopic layer of oxides, and these oxides inhibit reactions with other chemicals. As titanium is heated towards its melting point (3,034°F / 1,668°C), the oxides form even faster. During welding, which requires melting of the materials to be welded, the oxides form quickly, dissolve and contaminate the weld pool, the result of which is a weak, low quality weld. For this reason, titanium is difficult if not impossible to weld in open air, requiring either the use of a cover gas or welding in a vacuum.