From Jets to Jewelry
A History of the Element Titanium
© Ed Ferguson, Cascadia Design Studio 2000-2014. All Rights Reserved.
Titanium was discovered in 1791, when Reverend William Gregor, a British amateur scientist, analyzed some black magnetic sand (menachanite) from Cornwall. He found a residue he couldn't identify and thought it might be a new metal. In 1795 Martin Klaproth an Austrian chemist, verified that Gregor had in fact discovered a new element. Klaproth named the element "titanium", after the Titans, the first sons of the earth in Greek mythology.
In 1910 Matthew Hunter, an American professor, was the first to make pure elemental titanium. Titanium remained a laboratory curiosity until metallurgist William Kroll invented the Kroll Process in 1946, a technique that enabled titanium production in large quantities. Still, by 1947 only two tons of titanium was produced in the U.S.
The Titanium Industry was born in 1948 after the U.S. Government funded the start-up to produce the "strategic" metal for aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Never before had a structural metal received such scientific, financial and political attention. By 1953 annual production of titanium reached two million pounds.
Since then, titanium production has grown by about 8% per year, and since the early 1960s as prices dropped, its use has shifted significantly from military applications to commercial uses. Still, as of 2006, 72% of titanium metal in the US is utilized for aerospace construction. This high demand by a single industry is the primary reason for the recent surge in titanium prices. The United States imports 99% of its titanium from Russia, Kazakhstan and Japan.
Today, titanium is utilized in modern applications including aircraft, sports equipment, pigment, corrosion resistant industrial pumps, high performance automobile components, turbine blades, golf clubs, bicycles, eyeglass frames, watches, and of course jewelry.
Learn more - See my Titanium Trivia.