To fly away from harassing feminists for a bit, I’ll cover an interesting thing in the field that I also love so much, technology. This time, titanium enhanced devices and objects. How exactly “enhanced”? Read on…
I’m pretty certain every one of you came across something that had “Titanium coated”, “Titanium enhanced” or simply “TITANIUM” written on the box. Be it drill bits, beard shavers, electric hair cutters, knives etc.
We all value titanium as the toughest metal on Earth. Because it has been widely represented in science fiction or action movies and because it’s named after Greek god “Titan” which simply sounds majestic. TITAN. Say that with anger! See? It does sound majestic 🙂
However, few years ago, I’ve come across an interesting revelation that elemental titanium (or pure titanium) actually isn’t particularly stronger than stainless steel. They are very close on the Moh’s scale (around 6 Moh’s) when it comes to hardness, so why the hell they use it to somehow enhance our everyday gadgets?
The trick lays in Titanium Nitride (TiN). It is a titanium ceramic (based on its crystalline form) which is around 12-15 times harder than stainless steel and has a hardness value of 9 Moh’s (Diamond has a value 10, so you can imagine how hard TiN really is) and is usually applied to surfaces that sustain heavy friction. That’s why you see it used on blades and drill bits for the most part. It is applied in very thin layer, usually less than 5 microns (0,005 mm). Because it’s so hard, it will retain sharpness of the blades and drill bits for a lot longer than if you’d use plain stainless steel or carbon steel. You can recognize blades covered with TiN through color which looks very similar to gold (yellowish metallic color).
There are also other forms of enhanced titanium used for similar purposes, like Titanium Carbide or Titanium Diboride, but you will hardly ever see these used for personal care gadgets like shavers. Maybe on rugged military knives and drill bits. These are mostly used for heavy industry and usually have grey to dark grey tint instead of golden.
To sum things up in few words, this thin layer of titanium ceramic (TiN) provides superior wear resistance, superior chemical resistance and is also very friendly to our skin since it is non-allergenic like stainless steel (due to nickel in the stainless steel alloy).
So, the next time you’ll see a device or object that brags with TITANIUM on the box, you’ll know why it says so. It has a cool factor for sure, but mostly because it has very cool characteristics and makes our tools and gadgets last a lot longer for very small price increase.