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Titanium Today Consumer edition
 Published December 2014


William Seeley achieves artistic goals as a teacher, creator of titanium jewelry

Even though he has been a noteworthy figure in the world of titanium for more than three decades, William Seeley is more than happy to explain that he’s not involved in multi-billion dollar global markets such as aerospace and is not a chief executive offi­cer of an international metals producer or a manufacturing company. He doesn’t purchase or sell hundreds of tons of titanium. He also readily admits he’s not a high-tech engineer, industrial designer or metallurgist. Seeley, first and foremost, is an artist and his medium is titanium. As the founder and former president of Reactive Metals Studio Inc., Cottonwood, AZ, he has carved out an artistic niche in the field of titanium—a dedicated jewelry designer, teacher and metalsmith. Having pioneered the use of the reactive metals titanium and niobium in jewelry, his focus these days is to share his knowledge and pass along his wisdom and experience to a new generation of artisans. He does this by conducting workshops and teaching seminars throughout the country. In addition, he takes special pride in having endowed a fund for the Jewelry Department at his alma mater, the University of Kansas (see sidebar on next page). Born in Michigan in 1942, Seeley enrolled at Michigan State University and pursued his interests in TV, radio and theater. After serving in the Army for three years, including a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968, he returned to Michigan State and completed his undergraduate degree. His career aspirations in the performing arts eventually led him to Wichita, KS, where he became the technical director for a community theater. Traveling through various bohemian circles, he reconnected with a group of friends in Colorado, all of whom had become involved in jewelry making. It was an unexpected encounter and an activity that caught his eye and inspired him. His interest in jewelry making quickly grew into a passion and a means of artistic expression. He purchased equipment and tools and set out to teach himself basic metalsmithing skills. Convinced he had found a calling, and feeling burned out on the Wichita theater scene, he was accepted into a master’s degree program at the University of Kansas. Seeley was attracted to the university when he learned it housed the oldest metalsmithing program in in the United States (established in 1947). Seeley packed up his Volkswagen “Thing” and moved to Lawrence in 1978. He studied under Carlyle Smith, the founder of the university’s renowned Metals Program. Once immersed in the graduate program, Seeley demonstrated a restless curiosity and searched for ways to work outside the box and expand his range as an artist. As it turned out, there was an exhibition at the university that included works in titanium jewelry. This proved to be a turning point for Seeley. He saw the possibilities of utilizing titanium and felt he could bring his own insights to it. “I wanted to develop a system that a jeweler could put on a bench,” he recalled. “I saw a new way for an artist to create in jewelry.” Seeley garnered a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kansas in 1981 and continued to develop his expertise in titanium jewelry. There was no single, illuminating “ah ha” moment for Seeley, but rather a gradual process of experimenting to hone his craft. As a result, there were various breakthroughs and setbacks along the way and several occasions where he challenged conventional wisdom. One of the first things he sought to overcome was the notion that titanium was “too diffi­cult” to use for jewelry. “I started out using Commercially Pure Grade No. 1 titanium,” he said. Seeley proved to himself and others that he could employ hand tools to manipulate the metal as a material for jewelry—cutting it, bending it and forging it—just like he could when using gold or silver. His most exciting period of discovery came as he learned to fully exploit the elements of color anodizing on reactive metals. He explained this artistic anodizing process in an article he wrote for the website “Art Metal, Social Networking for the Metals Arts” ( Much of the information in the article came from his 1981 master’s thesis produced at the University of Kansas, titled: “Studio Preparation and Coloring of Titanium.” “Anodizing most closely resembles standard electroplating,” he wrote. “When a reactive metal is suspended in an electrolytic bath as an anode and current is passed through the bath, oxygen is produced at the anode surface. This oxygen reacts with the metal to form a thin oxide lm that generates colors. The transparent oxide increases in thickness in relation to the amount of voltage applied. At any given voltage, the oxide will grow to a specific thickness (creating a certain color) and stop, having reached a stage where current will no longer pass. This phenomenon of voltage controlled growth means that the color is also voltage controlled.” He stated in the essay that an area of oxide produced with a high voltage will not pass current from a lower voltage. “In other words an area anodized at 60 volts will not need masking when an adjacent area is anodized to 40 volts. It follows that multiple anodizing processes should proceed in decreasing voltages. Working in descending order will save masking and generate fewer errors. While oxygen is generated at the anode (positive), hydrogen is formed at the cathode (negative). Titanium and stainless steel make most convenient cathodes. This process does not have much throwing power and it is necessary to have a cathode equal to or larger than the anode.” According to Seeley, a variety of the electrolytic solutions can be used in the anodizing process—any liquid capable of carrying current. The list of possible solutions includes cola soda, sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate (fertilizer), magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), trisodium phosphate, dish detergents and even wine. However, he did recommend trisodium phosphate in solution with distilled water as being his top choice. “The percentage of chemicals in the solution will determine to some extent the length of time for the desired reaction to be completed,” he said. “Slowing the reaction can be achieved by lowering the concentration of chemical in solution.” A 1-5 amp, 0-125 volt variable DC power supply, with the ability to control both voltage and current output is needed for anodizing the reactive metals. Larger capacity power supplies are needed for work larger than jewelry and in high-volume production. Seeley’s essay went on to discuss the capabilities of bath anodizing, which he described as the best technique for one-color, rainbow and mass-produced work. “Anodic painting” (a term coined by Seeley) with the use of applicators provides the “real graphic potential for this process.” Attaching the cathode lead wire to the metal ferrule of an artist’s brush or clipping the lead wire to a sponge enables an artist to apply and manipulate the colors. Highly resistive masking agents such as asphaltum, lacquer, and specialty tapes can be applied by a variety of techniques in multiple anodizing steps to create layers of colors. Having grasped an artistic vision of what titanium jewelry could become, Seeley then confronted business issues, such as where to obtain the metal he needed to make his concept a reality. Up until this point, he was forced to dabble with titanium scrap. One of his first allies in the titanium industry was David Robertson, a former president of Tico Titanium Inc., Wixom, MI. “I was this artsy guy playing around with titanium, but Tico was the first place that opened their door. David Robertson and his staff took the time to talk with me.” Using Tico’s connections, Seeley began to network with other sources in the titanium industry. He explained the specifications he needed for Grade 1 Commercially Pure titanium sheet and wire, which he could use to hand craft jewelry. “I got people to listen to me,” he said. “I wanted to develop a product market for titanium that had never existed before.” Jim Perryman, the founder of Perryman Titanium, Houston, PA, also befriended Seeley and was an early supporter. Condent he could match business resources with his aesthetic aspirations, Seeley founded Reactive Metals Studio Inc. in early 1982. For more than 30 years, Seeley has successfully pursued his dream to create titanium jewelry. In the process, he established a viable small business and studio. “The goal was to make Reactive Metals Studio a real company, not just a ‘mom and pop’ thing in a garage.” At any given time during the last three decades, the studio had a maximum payroll of four employees. “We were too small to be a small business,” Seeley joked, “but today we’re well known throughout the titanium and jewelry industry.” Throughout his career Seeley has taught students how to anodize reactive metals. Along with the focus on artistic elements, he also has worked to establish practical business channels so that students and artisans can obtain the metal they need in the proper grades and quantity. “Reactive Metals Studio came out of the realization that there was no one to service the needs of the jewelry designer,” he said. “It made no sense to teach it if you could not purchase the material.” Over the years his calling has been fruitful and rewarding. Seeley recently announced that he is phasing out his work as a teacher. “By next year (2015) my workshop days will be over. Reactive metal jewelry is taught by many others now. It is part of most current metalsmithing text. My goal has been reached.” Last year he sold the Reactive Metals Studio business to two of his most trusted associates, Michele Watters and Deborah Allen-Adair. The two women have worked at the studio for more than 25 years and have been business partners with Seeley since 2004. Watters and Allen-Adair said they are moving in new directions, expanding their palette to include new niobium sheet products to their existing line of niobium and titanium. The business model for the studio includes supplying materials to jewelry designers and engineering small-scale anodizing systems. “The torch has been passed,” Seeley said, reflecting on his journey as an artist and the highlights in his career. “I am really pleased and very proud of what we’ve accomplished.


Classic Ti-3Al-2.5V Seamless Tubing Engineering Guide Now Available as Ebook

The writing of Ti-3Al-2.5V Seamless Tubing Engineering Guide—now being made available to ITA members as an Ebook—came about because of an unmet need in the titanium industry. “In the 1980s, everybody wanted information about Ti-3Al-2.5V for seamless tubing and there wasn’t much written down,” recalls Clyde Forney, then director of sales for Sandvik Special Metals in Kennewick, Washington. “So out of necessity, I put together an eight-page guide that I could hand out to clients on sales calls. The first clients who received it were engineers at NASA, and they really appreciated it.” A few years later, he lengthened the guide considerably, including new research. Then in 1990, Forney worked with Steven Meredith, a metallurgist at Sandvik Special Metals, to expand it yet again, adding valuable data on welding, bending, and fatigue properties along with numerous photos, charts, and graphs. Of particular importance was the section on inspection, testing, and quality control. They also added information on consumer applications, including sports, medical, and industrial. By then, the little eight-page guide had grown to 145 pages in length and was more in demand than ever. Out-of print for several years—but not out of date—its reissuance as an Ebook is part of ITA’s ongoing effort to provide its members with the best information available about all aspects of titanium, whether the information appeared yesterday or, in the case of the Ti-3Al-2.5V Seamless Tubing Engineering Guide, twenty-five years ago. Like many alloys developed in the 1950s and 1960s as alternatives to Ti-6Al-4V and CP titanium, Ti-3Al-2.5V was originally developed for aerospace applications.  The Specific need was for seamless tubing that would decrease the weight of the hydraulic system in aircraft while providing high strength properties. The alloy Ti-6Al-4V was not a viable option because its ductility level made the manufacture of tubing difficult. CP titanium did not have enough strength for most hydraulic applications. Only Ti-3Al-2.5V was suitable. A lean alpha plus beta alloy that uses the same alloying elements as Ti-6Al-4V, it is sufficiently malleable for tube manufacture. It can be cold-worked using standard tube making processes, is weldable, and can be strengthened by a combination of cold working and subsequent heat treating to a wide range of strengths and ductilities. The U.S. military started using Ti-3Al-2.5V in the late 1960s in the hydraulic lines of the F-14 Tomcat manufactured by Grumman. It was also used in the Lockheed C-5A. After it became standard in military aerospace, the alloy found its niche in civilian aircraft, including Boeing’s 767. It was also used in engines built by Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. But what set Ti-3Al-2.5V apart from many other alloys was its applicability for consumer goods, not just aerospace—an aspect about which Clyde Forney can shed some light. Forney started out in the industry 56 years ago in 1959 as a chemist for Wah Chang Metals Corp., eventually moving into sales. In 1977 while working for Zirtech, a company that had originally made zirconium tubing for the nuclear industry and which had diversified into titanium, Forney got a phone call from two Italian bicycle enthusiasts interested in building a brazed titanium bicycle. Pino Morroni was a former Italian soccer star who had become a bicycle frame designer. Cecil Behringer was a titanium brazing engineer. “They asked if they could sit down with me to explore the use of titanium tubing. Working together, we picked material sizes and wall thickness, and then we designed and built a brazed bicycle frame with titanium alloy tubing,” Forney explained. “To prove the strength of the frame, Morroni rode his bike down the steps of the Victor Emmanuel Monument in Rome.” While the bicycle never went into full production, the use of Ti-3Al-2.5V in the frame brazed in a oxygen-free oven advanced the art, demonstrating that titanium could bring its legendary strength and light weight into the world of cycling. Around the same time, Teledyne Linair in Gardena, California, introduced titanium frames using modified CP titanium tubing. But there were many technical problems. Frames made of CP titanium were light and resilient but often they broke down under strenuous racing conditions. Ti-6Al-4V, the dominant alloy in aerospace, was also tried by some frame manufacturers but without success. Ti-3Al-2.5V proved to be superior to both CP titanium and Ti-6Al-4V. Machine shops liked the alloy because it is weldable and its machinability is comparable to stainless steels, so experienced machinists could use conventional techniques. the market for titanium bikes took off in the 1980s when mountain biking became popular. High strength coupled with weight reduction was not as necessary for street bikes as it was for mountain bikes that had to be able to withstand grueling dirt trails strewn with rocks. The American manufacturers Merlin and Litespeed (now part of Merlin) brought titanium bikes to the fore using Ti-3Al-2.5V supplied by Sandvik Special Metals. Besides the reduction in weight, riders appreciated the alloy’s corrosion resistance and natural dampening characteristic, which made for a smoother ride. The new titanium bicycles were expensive but tough. Suddenly cyclists had the ability to ride rough back-country trails without demolishing their bikes. While at Zirtech in the 1970s, Forney was also involved in researching the use of Ti-3Al-2.5V for golf clubs. The alloy is well suited for shafts because it is resistant to twisting or torque during the swing. This property also makes it ideal for tennis rackets, lacrosse sticks, and other sports equipment. “One day a man who had the idea of making titanium golf shafts, and who had the patents to back it up, contacted me at Zirtech and asked for a meeting,” Forney said. “The local management thought the golf shafts had a chance of being a viable product, so we set up an area in one of our buildings so he could conduct swaging research and rough finishing of shafts.” Subsequently, Zirtech developed a manufacturing program for the golf shafts, which were produced by swaging Ti-3Al-2.5V tubes into tapered shapes, heat-treating, cutting to length, and polishing. Then they were weighed, cut to exact shaft number length, and bagged. Unfortunately, a few years later, Zirtech decided to refocus its business on aerospace and cancelled the program. However, that was not the end of the line. When Forney joined Sandvik Special Metals as director of sales in 1981, he got back in touch with the man, the result being the production of Sandvik’s Ti-Shaft product. “Sandvik eventually stopped making golf shafts, finding it more lucrative to sell Ti-3Al-2.5V seamless tubing to all the major bicycle makers,” said Forney. “It was the perfect alloy for sports equipment.” Even with its increasing importance in consumer products, the alloy’s main use continued to be in aerospace where the strength-to-weight ratio has always been a critical factor. One of Forney’s milestones during that time was his work with NASA and Rockwell Space engineers on changing the hydraulic lines in the space shuttle from steel to Ti-3Al-2.5V seamless tubing. This change significantly reduced the weight of the shuttle. Because it is corrosion resistant, the alloy was also appropriate for boilers and pressure vessels. In the 1980s, Ti-3Al-2.5V was listed as ASTM Grade 9 and was approved by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Forney was involved in yet one more innovative consumer use of Ti-3Al-2.5V, this time in wheelchairs. Besides high fracture toughness, titanium has a low elastic modulus, which provides a dampening effect for a smoother ride. Related to stiffness and the ability to transmit shock waves, a low elastic modulus helps absorb the bumps. Plus titanium does not corrode or rust. Ti-3Al-2.5V is the preferred alloy for off- road, racing, and basketball wheelchairs, in fact, for all wheelchairs. The availability of Ti-3Al-2.5V Seamless Tubing Engineering Guide in Ebook format is a welcome addition to ITA’s online library. Ebooks are an efficient and cost-effective way to provide our members with quality information on titanium. We look forward to adding other titles, and we thank Clyde Forney for his willingness to make his excellent book available.

Titanium Palms Take On the Forces of Nature

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, at latitude 49.254, is not known for its palm trees, but if Ellett Industries, Ltd. has anything to do with it, that is about to change. The banana palms they are fabricating are made of Grade 2 titanium unalloyed), more commonly used in chemical processing equipment, such as pressure vessels, reactors, heat exchangers, and piping systems, than in botanical specimens. But there are major advantages. A titanium palm does not need gentle tropical breezes. It can withstand harsh weather. It is corrosion resistant. It also happens to be beautiful. Just don’t expect to harvest bananas from it.
Ellett Industries manufacturers a wide variety of process equipment for many industries, including chemical processing, petro chemical, synthetic oil, oil and gas, fertilizer, pulp and paper, water treatment, mining, food and beverage, brewing and distilling, and pharmaceutical. Its engineers have extensive experience manufacturing equipment, such as evaporators, reactors, and fluids handling systems, which must be able to operate under extreme service conditions. The company began in 1921 making copper steam kettles, but now the metals are stainless steel, nickel alloy, titanium, and zirconium. When John S. Ellett, president of the company, got the idea for a titanium palm to be placed on his Pacific Ocean property, he posed a new challenge for his engineers. However, this was not the first time Ellett Industries had entered the field of art. ?e most famous piece designed and built by the company is an imposing stainless steel crab that rises up from a pool at the Vancouver Planetarium. Mr. Ellett turned to two of his employees to bring the idea of a palm to reality. Lyle Osberg, operations manager, and Terry Horton, plant manager of the piping division, set to work using conventional manufacturing methods but unconventional aesthetics. They did not want the tree to be a rigid facsimile that bore little resemblance to the real thing. Ideally, its fronds would be able to sway in the breeze, producing a pleasing kinetic effect while not posing a danger to people passing by. Looking around the recycling yard, they selected pieces of Grade 2 titanium. They could have used stainless steel but the palm tree would then have been too heavy to move and assemble easily on location. Once again, it was titanium’s strength to weight ratio that tipped the scales, so to speak, in its favor. The other factors were its beautiful luminous quality and its ability to withstand salt in a seacoast environment. The palm trees began with artistic sketches that were then translated into AutoCAD. The leaves were laser-cut and then slightly bent so that they were realistically three-dimensional. With the aid of a four-axis laser cutter, pipe was turned into the trunk, which was rolled and welded. Bark was laser-cut and affixed to the trunk giving it a rough effect. ?e biggest challenge was the welding of the branches to the trunk, which required the same welding and purge techniques that are used on the fabrication of such things as pressure vessels. The difference was that all the high-quality welded joints had to be hidden from view. Already the company has fabricated a second palm for another client. According to Mr. Ellett, the company would like to produce more. “The trees are truly magnificent,” he said. However, he is not envisioning vast forests of titanium palms. After all, Ellett Industries is located in Canada. Titanium maple trees anyone?

Edward Rosenberg urges titanium industry to explore consumer markets and ‘capitalize’ on the cool

It was a mild, sunny afternoon last December as Edward Rosenberg, the chief executive officer of jewelry designer and manufacturer Spectore Corp. was walking his three dogs in Delray Beach, FL. And while he was enjoying the moment and the ocean breeze, he was more than happy to chat about life in the titanium business. “You’re talking about my favorite subject,” he said with a chuckle during a long-distance cell phone interview, referring to the metal that occupies Number 22 on the Periodic Table. “I love titanium. It’s the greatest material. I’m a maverick. I like to get things done. I want to make things happen. I’m real excited about where we’re going these days.” Titanium, indeed, is Rosenberg’s favorite subject, but this conversation focused on potential ventures in consumer applications. In particular, he pointed to recently embarking on development projects such as titanium hunting and collector’s knives, kitchen/restaurant cutlery, consumer flatware, “and all sorts of crazy stuff.” Some of the “crazy stuff” involves the use of powder metallurgy and finding new ways to combine the color and texture of titanium with precious metals and composites. He also mentioned titanium products for the marine industry, firearms, watches, designer eyewear, as well as working with leather fashion designers to utilize aesthetic titanium accessories. These programs are all in the very early stages—agreements that were launched during the fourth quarter of 2014—so Rosenberg was not at liberty to discuss them. “Everything is top-secret,” he declared. However, he did note that his recent business travels have taken him to companies throughout North America. In addition, he traveled to Japan in January to take part in various trade shows, which indicates his perspective is international when it comes to cultivating titanium consumer applications. Rosenberg may be a self-described maverick when it comes to his approach to doing business, but his vision and efforts have yielded a considerable measure of success in the titanium industry. In 2010 he was the recipient of the International Titanium Association’s Titanium Applications Development Award, in recognition of his company’s three decades of achievements in titanium in consumer products. He started the company in 1979 and incorporated Spectore in 1983. Spectore produces titanium jewelry or men and women and features more than 2,000 pieces in its signature designer line, Edward Mirell, which was unveiled about 10 years ago, along with thousands of other jewelry items for private labels and brands. Capitalize on the Cool When it comes to developing products for the consumer market, Rosenberg is maverick enough to try and persuade his associates in the titanium industry on how to approach this business sector. “Maybe the consumer doesn’t completely understand titanium, but they know that it’s cool.” What’s needed from the titanium industry is a marketing campaign to capitalize on that allure. “Today’s consumers are ready (for titanium),” he continued.  They want cool, durable and exciting. They want to make a statement. They’re looking for something different.” He identified two challenges when it comes to approaching the consumer market: inaccurate perceptions about the metal; and missed opportunities to capture and retain niche products. The remedy for inaccurate perceptions is a sustained marketing and communications campaign to demystify the “unknowns” of titanium and illuminate its many advantages. For example, he said jewelry retailers initially were nervous and uncomfortable when it came to promoting titanium rings, earrings and bracelets. But savvy consumers created a buzz and sales took off. “Retailers of consumer products need a comfort zone when it comes to dealing with new materials like titanium,” he said. In one extreme but humorous example, he recalled the tale of how he was nearly arrested in the early 1980s at a Jewelers of America show, when people there misunderstood his display of titanium products for radioactive plutonium. Since that episode, titanium has demonstrated its value as a viable jewelry material. An online promotion by one jewelry distributor describes titanium as “one of the best new metals to be accepted by the jewelry industry. This element is not only hypoallergenic but it is also extraordinarily biocompatible. In many instances, it’s the only metallic option for people who are sensitive to conventional jewelry metals. Many of Edward Mirell’s pieces are made of titanium, including wedding bands, cuff links, pendants, keychains, earrings, money clips, and bracelets. You’ll find incredibly sophisticated pieces made of contemporary metals such as titanium, Black Titanium/ Black Ti™, CobaBlu™ cobalt, Timoku, stainless steel, and patented sterling silver made with a proprietary alloy.” Black Titanium is achieved through a proprietary anodizing process. Company literature states Black Ti is a proprietary alloy that “experiences an atomic transformation at the molecular level to become as hard ceramic. The titanium turns black from the outside in by exposing the element to extreme heat.” Spector describes Timoku as a patented lamination technology that symbolizes “the joining of two souls into a single integrated creation, far greater in strength than its components, yet preserving the essence of individuality.” The technology involves “layering thin sheets of black and gray titanium and exposing them to extreme heat and pressure causes the layers to fuse rather than melt together. The result is a unique and distinctive layered pattern in the metal that mimics the grains on wood.” As for missed opportunities, Rosenberg was reluctant to criticize his titanium industry colleagues, but did say a dedication to innovation is the remedy to correct missed opportunities. He also called for the titanium industry to adopt the persistence and determination needed to design, engineer and manufacturer consumer products that will yield thousands of parts, rather than hundreds of thousands of parts—at least in the initial stages of a consumer business relationship. He acknowledged that thinking on a more nimble, innovative, smaller scale to develop consumer products—at first glance—might not be the preferred path for business for a metals business looking to move volumes of ingots, billets and long products. It’s All About Innovation Reflecting on this mindset, Rosenberg quoted the philosophy of Michael Porter, the influential Harvard Business School professor, author and industry guru. “When it comes to competing in business, Porter said you can’t succeed by being the best, because the best is easy to copy. You can only succeed by being the most innovative. You have to keep reinventing.” He said this mantra of innovation and reinvention is central to competition in the global jewelry Capitalize on the Cool (continued) business, adding that the commitment also involves speed to market and the ability to design tooling that enables product to hit the “sweet spot” for pricing in consumer markets. “It’s all a matter of comprehension of context,” he said. “The jewelry business is 3,000 years old, but we set out to introduce a contemporary metal (titanium) to the market. This was a foreign concept to many people. It wasn’t easy. Businesses are built on certain foundations. It can be hard to convert and difficult to change, but that’s the challenge for innovation.  The perception in many consumer markets is that titanium is very expensive, difficult to manufacture and hard to repair. There’s a big disconnect between form and function. Most of the time, the hang-ups people have about titanium are completely untrue. They’re uncomfortable with trying something new. We have to show that titanium provides value compared with other materials.” When it comes to a commitment to innovation, Rosenberg walks the walk through his investments in Spectore. The company houses $11 million in advanced production equipment. A posting on the company’s website ( touts that Spectore’s 40,000 square foot facility employs “advanced equipment for the research, development, and manufacture of titanium and allows us to continually diversify and upgrade our design and manufacturing capabilities and unique product offerings.” The company’s design team uses CAD software programs such as Matrix, Rhino, SolidWorks, Pro-engineer, and Master Cam & ZBrush. Spectore makes use of 3D printing for rapid prototyping, has a roster of CNC lathes and five-axis mills, and utilizes various laser welding and joining technologies. _e company also has a “vast library of proprietary processing tools and equipment specifically engineered for working in hard and high temperature alloys,” along with heat treating, etching, anodizing and finishing equipment. Rosenberg expressed pride that his company was part of the “resurgence of U.S. manufacturing.” “I Was in a Pub and This Guy Came Up to Me…” Rosenberg was born at Coney Island Hospital in 1947. He was introduced to the jewelry business at a young age, working with his parents at their store in New York’s Lower East Side—11 Eldridge St., in the shadows of the Manhattan Bridge. His father Leon learned the trade (from his father) while in Austria, in the days when being a jeweler meant you also needed to be a locksmith and a blacksmith. Leon came to America in 1924. Rosenberg attended New York College, Pratt Institute and the New York Institute of Technology and was involved in the music industry in the late 1960’s. Rosenberg unexpectedly “discovered” titanium during the mid-1970s while he was teaching jewelry making at the Royal College of Art in London, located next door to Royal Albert Hall and adjacent to Hyde Park. The story sounds like the lead-up to a corny joke, but Rosenberg was having an especially good time one afternoon in a London pub when he was approached—out of the blue—by a British engineering student. “This guy came up to me. He heard my American accent and thought that, as an American, I would know something about titanium.” The student said he was having difficulties welding two pieces of titanium for a particular project. “He showed me what he was doing and I fell in love with the color of the metal. That was it.” A 2008 article in the New York Times captured Rosenberg’s enthusiasm for titanium as a jewelry material. “As a young jeweler in the early 1980s, Edward Rosenberg liked to anodize titanium in baths of champagne or Coca-Cola—anything electrolytic—just so he could watch the naturally grey metal blush from bronze to cobalt to turquoise,” the article stated. “With each electric charge, an oxide layer formed, causing an optical phenomenon akin to the iridescent shimmer of peacock feathers or oil on water. While gold and platinum still dominate the fine jewelry market, titanium has made inroads at the very highest echelons of the jewelry universe thanks to a handful of world-class designers who have been seduced by its feather weight and kaleidoscopic possibilities.” As his Florida dog walk was coming to an end, Rosenberg again expressed his pride in being part of the titanium industry and his hopes for achieving success in consumer markets. “When you think about it, titanium technology is relative young. We all still have a lot of learning to do.”


Architectural Titanium and How it Grew

Our experience in custom architectural metals began back in 1986, when we worked with all metals,” says Gary Nemchock, president of Architectural Titanium. That all changed in 1997, when the company contracted with Timet to develop and expand the global titanium architecture market. This coincided with their first project: cladding the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, with titanium. Architect Frank Gehry’s iconic building attracted everyone’s attention. “Titanium had been used on buildings in Japan prior to the Guggenheim, but no one seemed to notice until that moment,” explains Mr. Nemchock. “We became titanium purists, and from that day to this have never worked with any other material.” Architectural Titanium, located in Lawrence, Kansas, provides commercially pure titanium sheet in a variety of sizes and shapes for buildings worldwide. “We custom tailor the titanium for each project,” says Project Manager David Hawley. “We have eight standard finishes, and we also custom-emboss names and designs.” Although light weight and high strength are important, the most critical attribute of titanium for architectural applications is its corrosion resistance. The company provides a hundred-year warranty for through-wall corrosion on its projects. The next most important characteristic is the variety of surface finishes and textures possible with titanium. Surfaces can be made brightly or softly reflective, and a spectrum of colors can be produced by changing the thickness of the oxide film that forms instantaneously on titanium and protects it from corrosion. Critical to the success of the company was their development of an efficient method for joining panels of titanium sheet. The panels vary in size and shape, but are typically 0.5 mm thick, making the edges easy to fold down. The folded edges interlock and are joined to the substrate wall or roof with stainless steel clips, creating a smooth surface. this article focuses on three recent projects, the Visitors Center at the Peace Palace in the Hague, Netherlands; the La Maison Simons building in Edmonton, Alberta; and a private home in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Visitors Center at the Peace Palace in The Hague is located just outside the entrance gate to the Palace. The Visitors Center at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Academy of International Law. Architectural Titanium (continued) the center was designed to be futuristic with its titanium cladding, yet to resonate with the century-old architecture of the Peace Palace with its red brick. The Peace Palace is home to a number of international judicial institutions, including the International Court of Justice (or World Court), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Peace Palace Library, and the Hague Academy of International Law. The building was financed by a $1.5 million dollar grant from Andrew Carnegie, and the Carnegie Foundation still owns the Palace, the premises on which it stands, and the library. The Visitors Center building fulfills three primary functions: a security-check zone for officials, visitors, and vehicles; an exhibition gallery that shows the history and activities of the Peace Palace; and an assembly point and souvenir shop for tourist groups. The roof and exterior of the structure are clad in 18,300 square feet of commercially pure grade 2 titanium with a G1 finish. The G1 finish is created by pressing an embossed steel roller over the 0.5 mm-thick titanium sheet, producing a soft textured finish. This provides a matte finish with low reflectivity. The soft curved titanium roof has a modulated profile to enclose and unify the variety of spaces it contains. It partially covers the brick base that matches the historic entrance wall. La Maison Simons is an upscale clothing store headquartered in Quebec whose buildings almost always feature titanium as an integral part of their architecture. After the owner visited the Guggenheim Museum, he directed his architects to use titanium on all future stores. The five stores built since then have all utilized titanium in some manner on the façade. On the latest store, the façade is composed of vertical titanium ribbons 1.5 mm thick, a foot wide, and ranging in length from 20 to 45 feet. The company developed a unique method to build the structure: Each ribbon is attached to a steel plate at the top, then twisted at various angles up to 180 degrees, and fixed in place at the bottom. The goal of this design is to call to mind the aurora borealis, with its vertical curtains of moving light. The color and brightness of the ribbons vary from soft gold in the sun, to blue to silver and gray in the shade, and through the seasons as the intensity of light changes. Because each ribbon has a slightly different angle On the La Maison Simons store, the façade is composed of vertical titanium ribbons 1.5 mm thick, a foot wide, and ranging in length from 20 to 45 feet. Architectural Titanium (continued) to the sun, the changing reflections give the impression of auroras. “A private home in Iceland was a unique opportunity,” says Vice President Vicki Eudaly. “EON Architects called us and said their client wanted to build a house of concrete, glass, and titanium. In this case, the owner was the driving factor in choosing titanium over any other architectural metal.” It took two years to complete the building, which is located just outside of Reykjavík. Architectural Titanium provided 9688 square feet of architectural titanium with the G1 finish for the exterior wall cladding. Called the House of Shapes, it won the 2014 “Large Residence of the Year” award from Interior Design magazine.

TITANIUM MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS Titanium guitar: more than a work of art

The first time Russ Rubman saw a Gittler electric guitar, it was not in a music store: It was in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, in 2004. In fact, it was one of only sixty that had been made (of stainless steel) by Allan Gittler back in the 1970s. None had been made since. At first he thought it was simply a work of art, an understandable reaction. However, some investigation revealed that it was actually a functional electronic guitar and had in fact been played. Mr. Rubman knows a thing or two about metals, as he is the owner of Alloys International, which supplies aerospace and defense metals and parts. He is familiar with stainless steel, nickel alloys, and titanium, and was fascinated by the minimalist approach to the structure of the Gittler guitar. Eventually he met with Allan Gittler’s son Jonathan to discuss the future of the instrument. Although Mr. Rubman believed the design was perfect, he also was convinced that if it were made of three pounds of titanium rather than five pounds of stainless steel, and if it included the most advanced electronics, its sound and sensitivity would make the guitar a huge hit. Mr. Gittler agreed, and the two launched Gittler Instruments LLC in 2012. Mr. Rubman chose titanium Ti-6Al-4V ELI because of its high strength and hardness, in spite of the fact that it is extremely difficult to machine. “Titanium, despite its challenges, was a natural choice for us,” he says. “Our special Grade 23 titanium is a high purity version of Ti-6Al-4V. It demonstrates superior damage tolerance, and exhibits the highest ratio between strength and density of any metallic material. It has exceptional corrosion resistance and fatigue strength, while weighing 42% less than its original steel predecessor. Perhaps most important for a musical instrument, this alloy has a crystalline structure of close-packed hexagonal grains, which allows for optimum transfer of acoustic energy.” Every Gittler guitar is hand-crafted. Construction begins with a heat treatment in which the titanium is put through a special process where it is “annealed to dead soft and stress relieved.” Then a machinist carefully shapes the backbone for perfect flatness and precise curvature, and cuts multiple notches for the frets. He bends the piece backward around a custom jig to open up the notches, and compression-fits the cylindrical frets into the notches. Then he carefully makes several microwelds at the notch corners to retain flatness and consistency. The frets on a Gittler guitar are cylindrical rather than rectangular as on a conventional guitar. “The contact point of the string on the cylindrical fret is less than a thousandth of an inch, compared to about 80 thousandths for an ordinary guitar. And the distance between frets is more exact,” explains Mr. Rubman. “That helps obtain more perfect intonation, and the fret spacing is more precise.” After construction, every guitar is subjected to rigorous testing. They are tested for perfect flatness, precise curvature, and exact string height. In addition, “We guarantee that all four octaves are top-to-bottom perfect.” “Our guitar weighs only about three pounds, and is only 29 inches long,” he concludes. “It is very easy and fun to play, and so light that you can fling it over your back.” You can learn more about the Gittler titanium guitar at The site has much more information about the instrument, including recordings. How a mountain bike led to a titanium drum. This is the story of how a drummer named Ronn Dunnett was inspired by a broken mountain bike to build a titanium snare drum. He was riding the bike in the wilds of Australia back in 1989 when a piece of tubing broke off. Instead of making a clanging sound when it hit the rocks, it made an unusual ringing sound. So, instead of feeling frustrated by the broken bike, he felt inspired by “that cool sound.” He thought the sound would be great for a drum, and learned when he took the bike to be repaired that the tube was made of titanium. After he returned to his home in Vancouver, he visited a Boeing surplus warehouse in Seattle, only about an hour and a half drive away. He was overjoyed to find a piece of titanium sheet, which he was able to coil into a drum shell. When he hung the shell from a string and tapped it, he heard a deep rich tone, and knew he was on to something. He decided to try changing the thickness of the sheet, to find the perfect tone. After much trial and error, he discovered the perfect thickness for making a drum shell. “It is strong enough to hold its shape, but thin enough to provide the deep resonant sound that makes the drum so remarkable,” he says. “If you just tap the drum shell, you hear a complex note like a chord, one that is deeper than possible with almost any other drum material. It has beautiful overtones that no other material has.” Mr. Dunnett realized that other drummers would also appreciate the unique qualities of a titanium drum, and decided to become a drum builder. He needed Grade 2 unalloyed titanium sheet with a perfect finish, with no scratches or other flaws. Eventually he found an overseas manufacturer that would sell him material of the quality and quantity he needed. At the time, the only titanium drum shell being made was so thick that being titanium really did not matter. “Once titanium reaches a certain weight, the sonic properties are negated,” he explains, “so it sounds like every other metal.” On the other hand, the Dunnett titanium drum shell is the thinnest on the market. Most metal drum shells require that the edges be bent over to add strength. However, bending the metal also has the effect of changing the way it vibrates, thus eliminating its individual sound. Although the Dunnett drum has the thinnest shell, titanium is so strong that it does not require strengthening, and the resonant titanium sound is preserved. Many professional bands also appreciate the titanium drum. Dunnett drums are played by the Dave Mathews Band, Nickelback, and Sound Garden, among others. A more complete list of professionals is available at www., where you can also listen to recordings. Titanium Musical Instruments (continued) The Dunnett titanium drum shell is the thinnest on the market, and is usually left unfinished. Over time and with use, the titanium acquires a deep rich finish. Colors such as this translucent purple are available by special order. You can see and hear this drum on the “Dave Matthews Live in Central Park” DVD, which you can view in the AV section of the website Does a titanium flute produce a richer sound than silver? When a flute maker invents a device that replicates how flutists play their instruments, it is pretty good evidence that he is serious about making improvements. It took a long time for Jonathon Landell to design and build his flute tester, but he was determined to find the answer to this question: “Does a titanium flute produce a richer sound than silver?” Mr. Landell graduated from the New England Conservatory with a degree in flute performance, and started his own flute making business in 1971. He first became interested in making flutes of titanium in 1996, when he read an interview with a renowned flute maker who noted that although flutes were typically made of silver or gold, titanium had never been tried. The expert thought that the lower weight and greater hardness of titanium might result in a fuller, richer sound. Impressed by what the expert said, Mr. Landell set about making a titanium flute, but discovered many challenges along the way. For one thing, the Ti-6Al-4V alloy he had selected was too hard to machine, and too brittle. He switched to commercially pure titanium tubing, which was not as hard and was easier to work. Even after making the change, machining was so difficult that he decided to make only the head joint, the top section of the flute. This nine inch piece includes the “embouchure” (the hole cut into the tube) and the lip plate, the piece that is positioned over the embouchure. The act of blowing air through the plate into the embouchure produces the sound in a flute. Therefore, if titanium really did affect flute sound, the difference should be noticeable even if the titanium head joint were placed on the body of a silver flute. However, he faced another challenge in attaching the titanium lip plate to the titanium head joint. He tried brazing, but found that some braze materials Thowed like water between the parts, while others seemed to work well at first, but failed later. “Sometimes the brazed plate would just fall off,” he says. To solve the problem, he tested an array of adhesives, and finally succeeded in attaching the lip plate to the head joint with an epoxy. The first time he began to play, “I knew immediately this flute had an amazing sound and a response unlike anything in the field.” To prove that his impressions were based on physical reality, he decided to build a device “that would blow the flute mechanically with calibrated controls.” This was not a simple task, but he did succeed in building a machine that would propel consistent amounts of air through an embouchure at a consistent rate of speed, “without the variability of humans.” He took the device to the University of Vermont, where a professor of physics carried out a series of acoustic tests. Results showed that his titanium flute “came up to sound twice as fast as a silver flute, and the overtones were stronger.” Encouraged by this evidence, he exhibited at a flute convention in New York in 1996, where several professional flutists were impressed by its rich tone and quick response. Since then, he has sold more than 100 titanium head joints to professionals around the world. “I have done everything possible to make the process more efficient,” says Mr. Landell. However, making the flute by hand, especially the embouchure and lip plate, requires “the investment of many hours of grinding and filing, smoothing and polishing, measuring and refining orifice details.” In an effort to reduce these hours of hand work, Mr. Landell recently investigated additive manufacturing. Specifically, he has evaluated direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) for its ability to produce a net shape lip plate. In fact, he expects to have the very first DMLS plate completed by the time this article is published. In the future, he hopes to manufacture the complete flute by additive manufacturing, but progress will depend on finding a partner to help with financing and engineering. To learn more about Landell Flutes, and to hear Mr. Landell play the titanium prototype flute in concert, visit www.

Camping and Hiking with Titanium

When you think about camping and hiking equipment that could be made of titanium, you would probably consider pans, mugs, even stoves and backpack frames. Most likely though, you would not think of T-shirts. But Brian Vargo did. Not that the Vargo Outdoors Ti-Fusion T-shirts look like something an armored knight would wear: He simply took regular cotton T-shirt material and infused it with titanium dioxide powder. Mr. Vargo tried this after learning that titanium dioxide is hydrophilic, meaning it has an affinity for water molecules. Because of this property, when water strikes TiO2-infused cotton, it does not bead, but spreads that over the surface. This increases the surface area, and speeds evaporation by 25% compared with untreated garments. In the presence of light, the material becomes superhydrophilic, a property that allows water to displace oil and dirt. In addition, in the presence of light, titanium dioxide particles electrostatically trap odor-causing micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mold and mildew. “These properties are a backpacker’s dream,” says Mr. Vargo, “because the T-shirts dry fast and don’t smell, no matter how many days you’ve been on the trail!” The T-shirts are the latest addition to the Vargo product line, and are already best sellers. Brian Vargo began his business in 2003 by making titanium tent stakes for serious hikers who carry their food and shelter in backpacks for days on end. As a serious hiker himself, he knew how heavy that backpack could become. When he approached camping suppliers with his tent stakes, their responses were positive and immediate: “Yes, it will be easy to sell those!” Encouraged by their acceptance, he added titanium sporks (spoon + fork = spork) to his line. Then he designed the Triad stove, a three-legged titanium stove only four inches in diameter that weighs 1½ ounces and burns alcohol and other fuels. “You don’t need a big fire,” he points out. “Whether camping or in survival mode, all you need is a small stove so you can boil water in a small pot.” But what happens when the camper runs out of stove fuel? Mr. Vargo came up with the answer: a titanium woodburning stove. The hexagonshaped, five-inch diameter stove folds that, opens easily, and snaps quickly into shape. It weighs 4.1 ounces, and a pan of boiling water fits nicely on top, as shown in Fig. 1. Of course, not all liquids need boiling, but some do need to be poured into a flask, and the titanium flask shown in Fig. 2 has a convenient built-in funnel for this purpose. The silicone funnel simply flips down out of the way when not in use. Vargo Outdoors now offers a wide range of titanium hiking and camping necessities. Figure 3 shows a titanium pot lifter, a titanium mug, and a titanium alcohol stove heating water in a “bot,” a titanium bottle that doubles as a pot. Visit to see the full line of titanium products, together with videos that show how they work.


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