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Thread: Aluminum vs Titanium

  1. #1

    Aluminum vs Titanium

    Interesting email I just got. What are your thoughts? (Long but worth the read)


    Titanium wheelchairs on the market today can only be

    defined as a double-edged sword. You could go even

    further by saying it is a “Catch 22” which Webster’s

    defines, “from the novel, Catch 22 (1961) by J.Heller, a

    paradox in a law, regulation or practice that makes one a

    victim of its provisions no matter what one does.”

    The aircraft and the subsequently space agencies have

    been the movers and shakers of the last century. The

    explosion of metal technology gave us those alloys we use

    today within the wheelchair industry. Two of which are in

    the forefront of design and application today, aircraft

    aluminum and aircraft titanium.

    Both alloys are used and have been used for years within

    the aircraft and space industries. It is to be noted that 95

    + % of materials used on aircrafts is aluminum and the

    remaining 5% are various metal alloys including aircraft

    titanium.

    The writer offers, the following alloy for thought. If titanium

    is a metal superior to aluminum why is it not more

    extensively used on aircrafts? Please take note that there

    are some limited areas that aircraft titanium can offer

    improvements over aircraft aluminum where

    C O S T and

    D U R A B I L I T Y

    are not determining factors. However these

    areas are rare and varied in nature.

    Aluminum has become a “user friendly” alloy

    that can, if

    needed, be welded, brazed, machined and drilled in most

    any shop. On the other hand, aircraft titanium represents

    an entirely diff e rent picture. It is very delicate and

    u n f o rgiving. Furt h e rm o re, only the most sophisticated

    shops are capable of addressing repairs to this alloy. I do

    not recommend titanium for wheelchair frames except

    within a marriage with aluminum.

    Could it be possible that titanium is being used just as a

    “catch” phrase to lure its victims into not seeing its true

    character? Titanium wheelchairs on the market today still

    cannot claim that they are the lightest within our industry.

    Maybe for their manufacturer they are the lightest within

    their company’s product lines. But it is a proven fact that

    there are lighter rigid aluminum wheelchairs on the market

    today that could challenge any manufacturer of titanium

    wheelchairs on the issue of weight, durability, and stre n g t h .

    The next time you are deciding between titanium and aluminum

    make sure you are really getting your money’s worth.

  2. #2
    Roll-ability (how well a chair fits and rolls) is more important than aluminum vs. titanium. Ultimately, titanium is very marginally lighter in weight and a significant increase in cost. Is the big cost worth the marginally lower weight.... NO.

    That said, do we need 500+ horsepower muscle cars to drive to work and get groceries? NO, but they sure are cool!!

    Titanium is cool!! If there was no weight saving, I would still have titanium because it is cool!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member jschism's Avatar
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    kinda hard to compare a wheelchair to an airplane. Last I checked I couldn't fly, go 100+mph, or pull any G's from my wheelchair.

  4. #4
    one cannot simply claim that any particular material is "better" than another. it's a matter of determining the properties of the finished product that you require and then choosing the most appropriate material(s) to construct it.

    That being said, I'll take my carbon fiber chairs over any of them

  5. #5
    Another factor is the polished or brushed Ti is much easier to maintain looking good -- You can sand/buff out most scratches whereas painted Al takes a beating.

  6. #6
    Titanium is actually more dense than Aluminum, it is simply stronger so you can use less of it and achieve equivalent load bearing ability. Given the right aluminium alloy (a pure aluminum chair would be very soft and wouldn't last a day) I would assume you could make a lighter chair from aluminum than titanium (especially a box frame). All that being said, I like the scratch resistance of my ZRA and the small diameter tubing. If was was to get a custom fully welded chair (that suspension chair you posted earlier looked very shiny) if it was cantilever I would stay Ti but if it was a box frame I would go Al or Mg.

    Quote Originally Posted by jakeyboy1 View Post
    Roll-ability (how well a chair fits and rolls) is more important than aluminum vs. titanium. Ultimately, titanium is very marginally lighter in weight and a significant increase in cost. Is the big cost worth the marginally lower weight.... NO.

    That said, do we need 500+ horsepower muscle cars to drive to work and get groceries? NO, but they sure are cool!!

    Titanium is cool!! If there was no weight saving, I would still have titanium because it is cool!!

  7. #7
    aluminum scratches can go deep. titanium scratch doesnt really show. of course i cant repair my tilite in normal shops, but if it comes with lifetime warranty, why should i need to bother?besides, titanium flex less.good enough for me.

    just look at my aluminum handrims.i dont want my chair end up looking like that. paint chip, needless to say. but metal chips? no way.i live on it.i want it to look good.constantly.simply that.

    p/s : i have a polished titanium frame. the chair still look awesome, but the hand rim is a sore to look at. i just wish sun fusion's handrim doesnt coat black for long. please give us grey handrim next time.
    walking is OVER-RATED!!!

    Broken in August 14th, 2003. T9-L1 complete.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jschism View Post
    kinda hard to compare a wheelchair to an airplane. Last I checked I couldn't fly, go 100+mph, or pull any G's from my wheelchair.
    well said. true that.
    walking is OVER-RATED!!!

    Broken in August 14th, 2003. T9-L1 complete.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JeffH's Avatar
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    Titanium is smoother

    I used an aluminum chair for 5-1/2 years.

    Have had my titanium chair for 18 months.

    It is lighter, but more importantly it damps out vibrations better.

    I get lots of spasms. Vibrations kick them off.
    Used to have hell rolling on rough surfaces.
    The yellow bumps at ADA crosswalks would always set me off.

    But I get a lot less spasms these days when pushing.

    Just noticed today that I rolled over some of them yellow bumps without spasming.

    YMMV
    Jeff
    Doh!

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