The cost of equipment properly designed in titanium is never as high as the price by weight of the metal suggests. Most designs are based on use of metal by surface area rather than by weight, and the strength, lower density and corrosion resistance of titanium are all factors which keep costs down.

Index on econimcal topics:

First Cost
Running cost
Maintenance and downtime
Availability of titanium
Production and range of semi-finished products
Guidelines to design cost control


  First cost

A cost comparison carried out for two heat exchangers and a pressure vessel shows how titanium
provides the least expensive initial cost, compared to a range of corrosion resistant materials, even
before life-cycle benefits are considered.

Material Cost comparison
Vessels Heat Exchangers
Ti Grade 2 1.0 1.0
Ti Grade 7 1.3 1.3
Ti Grade 12 1.05 1.1
Incoloy 825* 1.1 1.1
Zr Grade 702 1.3 1.4
Hastelloy B-2^ 1.6 1.6
Hastelloy C-276^ 1.5 1.6
*Registered name of INCO.
^Registered name of Haynes.

Although pipe and tube are normally quoted and sold by metre, substantial tonnages may be sold by weight. Hence there may be a tendency to exclude titanium as apparently uneconomical. A more studied approach would almost certainly show not only that titanium has lower first cost, but also substantial life cost savings and downstream technical benefits. Weight for weight, a titanium pipe of the same diameter and schedule will be almost twice as long as pipe made from any one its more dense competitors. Reduction of the schedule can cut pipe by weight by over 70%, with a substantial reduction in the total purchase price.

Running costs

Titanium offers a many opportunities for reducing operating costs:
  • Conservation of energy In aircraft reciprocating engines and other mobile equipment, weight saving translates into better fuel economy.
  • Improved heat transfer The efficient, sustained heat transfer provided by titanium not only improves energy conservation, but also helps to reduce process cycle times.
  • Resistance to aggressive raw materials The use of titanium in petrochemical plant, for example, allows less expensive crude oil to be processed even though it contains higher levels of hydrogen sulphide.

In many applications, titanium has replaced heavier, less serviceable or less cost-effective materials. Titanium-based systems offer reliability. Many have substantially exceeded performance and service life expectations.

Maintenance and downtime

Maintenance and downtime costs may be a very significant element in plants designed for a long service life. Titanium inherently saves cost through reliable performance. Welded titanium tube supplied for power plant surface condenser use has, for some time, been sold with a 40 year performance guarantee. More recently a similar guarantee has been extended to grade 2 and grade 3 tubeplates for the same application. Many of the earlier installations of welded tube have now
outlived their original guarantee periods several times over.

Availability of titanium

Titanium is the fourth most abundant metal in the earths crust. Capacity for production substantially exceeds long term forecasts of demand. Product prices are low and stable. Titanium and rutile ore are both sourced in friendly countries with stable regimes, unlike nickel or chromium, and so the price of titanium has never been subject to crisis or political factors. The ready availability of titanium in a wide and ever increasing range of products forms has assured its growth as a basic
general engineering material. Today a network of mills, stockists, machinists and fabricators ensure that the demands of design quality and speed of delivery can be met. The extraction of titanium is a multi-stage process, the first metallic product being 'sponge'. This product has no value as an engineering material, and needs to be consolidated and melted to produce ingots from which semi-finished products may be manufactured.

Production and range of semi-finished products

Titanium ingots are the proper starting point of metal manufacture and are handled as the other industrial metals and alloys by forging or rolling to produce intermediate billet or slab. Billet provides the material for manufacture of forgings, bar, wire, and extruded or rolled/drawn seamless tube and pipe. Slab provides the starting material for the production of plate,strip, sheet and foil welded tube produced from strip. Castings are produced either from remelted ingot or billet, or from
electrodes made up from revert material. Cast weldments enable large components exceeding the limits of individual casting weight, typically 750kg(1650lb), to be supplied. A combination of forging, machining and fabrication provides the route to all requirements for engineering products.

Guidelines to design cost control

  • Check available standard products and specifications to obtain best availability and lowest costs.
  • Use design strategies based on using minimum material thickness.
  • Exploit corrosion resistant characteristics to the full.
  • Consider the use of liners and claddings in preference to solid design where heavy sections are unavoidable.
  • Use welded fabrication where practical in preference to forging and machining.
  • Consult suppliers and fabricators at the earliest stage of design


Do not:
  • Simply substitute titanium into existing designs.
  • Budget for titanium project costs by weight, especially not by the weight of steel or copper alloys.
  • Specify little used alloys or forms.