Titanium is a very cool metal as it is very strong and resilient, while still being very light. However it is also very difficult to work with because the processes involved require high temperatures that will damage components made of more commonly used metals. Researchers at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft have found a way around this problem though in part by developing a better material and coating that can survive the high temperatures.
To form components out of titanium usually requires reaching temperatures over 800 ºC, which is too hot for the materials that make up the devices used to form the titanium. Modern techniques to form titanium instead operate nearer to room temperature, but this requires the addition of other processes to treat the titanium so it does not form cracks from the cold work. Now the researchers have designed a new tool for forming titanium that is made, in part, from nickel alloys which can withstand the high temperatures, and a coating to withstand another issue. At these high temperatures, titanium likes to react with oxygen and nitrogen, and this can also damage the forming tools, so an inert gas has to be used to preserve the tools. So the researchers also developed a special coating for the devices specifically to survive this extreme environment.
This development could impact many industries as it is the forming process which makes using titanium too expensive to use. Once that price drops though, this metal which is in the top ten for most abundant in the Earth's crust, could see much more widespread use.