Posted on August 17 2016
Most people have a lot of questions about titanium and titanium jewelry; What is it made of? Where does it come from? How are titanium rings created?
In this multi part blog, I will answer (hopefully) all of the questions you have ever had about titanium. I will dispel some of the myths surrounding it. Here we go!
Okay, let's start with the history of titanium! Because, you know, history is cool.
Titanium was first discovered in 1791 by chemist Reverend William Gregor. He dubbed the metal Gregorite. Because who doesn't want something named after them? I would like to discover a beautiful flower and new species of spider. We could call them the Foxawesomus Generalis and the AnthoFoxus Radicallis. Sounds pretty sweet to me. So, even though this Reverend William Gregor was technically the first to discover "Gregorite," it was independently discovered two years later in 1793 by German chemist M.H. Klaproth, who decided to name the metal titanium. He named it after the Titans of Greek mythology. The Titans were the twelve children of Gaia (Mother Earth) and Uranus (Father Sky). They were giants of epic proportions, known to be “the incarnation of natural strength.” Pretty appropriate and super cool name. Sorry, Rev. Gregor.
Though Gregor and Klaproth were the discoverers of titanium, neither one of them were able to extract a pure sample of the metal from what they had found. An ALMOST pure sample was extracted by D.K. Kilrov in 1875. But as my 4th grade teacher Mr. Heck would always say, "Almost only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades." So poor Kilrov got no credit in the making of pure titanium, and everyone forgot his name. It wasn't until 1910 that pure titanium was developed. This was done by a metallurgist from New Zealand named Matthew A. Hunter. (Thanks to New Zealand we now have Lord of the Rings, Rusell Crowe and Titanium. Oh, and the Kiwi Bird. Those little things are hecka cute.) At the time the extraction process for pure titanium was laborious and very time consuming. It wasn't crafted on a large scale until 1937. This is when William Kroll developed a process to successfully isolate titanium with a reduction of magnesium. This was deemed the Kroll process. Though his technique has been slightly altered and streamlined over the decades, it is still the way titanium is extracted to this day. It's even still called the Kroll process. Lucky dude.
Using this updated version on the Kroll process, in 1947 a super smart man named R. S. Dean was able to extract 2 tons of pure titanium. The next year, in 1948 DuPont opened the first large scale plant for manufacturing titanium. Cue the voice of that guy from the movie previews- And the world was changed forever!
Thanks to the large scale production of titanium, the aerospace industry grew rapidly. Because of the weight to strength ratio of titanium, they were able to create lighter, faster and more durable planes. The SR-71 "Blackbird" was the first aircraft to be almost entirely crafted from titanium in its body and frame. This allowed it to reach speeds of 3500 km per hour. And thanks to Google, I now know that 3500 km per hour is 2174.799 mph. That's super fast! Had the plane been made of any other metal it would simply melt out of the sky.
Titanium is used for tons of stuff now: sports equipment, jets, rockets, replacement hips for old people, teeth and (obviously the coolest use) Classic Titanium handmade rings!
I hope you have enjoyed the history of titanium episode of this blog. Please feel free to leave positive and complimentary comments and questions below. :)