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The Titanium Playing Fields

June 10, 2013

Lately, the wide world of sports has awoken to the advantages of using titanium alloys in its equipment. From baseball bats to golf clubs (see our blog entry “Another Creative Use for Titanium: Golf Clubs” from January 2012), it seems that we’re seeing athletic applications for the unique metal popping up all around us.

Known for possessing the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal, titanium is changing the playing field by both lightening and strengthening the components found in tennis rackets, field hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, catcher’s masks, goalie’s masks, football helmet grills, bicycles frames and wheels, cricket bats, fishing rods and on and on. It’s even being used by upscale farriers in horseshoes for competition horses.

Here are a few of the more interesting examples of how titanium is now affecting athletics:

  • At this year’s Masters Tournament, the length of many of the longer holes was increased by 10 percent to make them challenging to a new generation of players using titanium-based drivers and fairway metals.
  • Gunter Mai of Berlin, Germany, received a Guinness World Record this year for building the world’s lightest full-size racing bicycle, which tipped the scales at a mere 2.8 kg (about 6 pounds), and logging over 12,000 miles on the machine.
  • During the 2012 Paralympics, 20-year-old seated discus thrower Kieran Tscherniawsky of Heckington, U.K., competed in a special lightweight titanium self-propelled power-assisted wheelchair.
  • Major League catchers routinely wear up to 5 pounds of gear during their duties behind the plate. New steel-and-titanium masks (from Nike) used by catchers like Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins cut down just a bit on the weight of the “tools of ignorance.”
  • At the Champion Titanium Horseshoe Co., they state that their specialty products have “delivered consistent results that have improved the health of ‘trashed’ hooves and provided equestrians with a lightweight advantage for enhanced competitive performance.”

So the word is definitely getting out among the sporting crowd that titanium has performance advantages that put it at the front of the field.  Particular grades of titanium based alloys used in consumer applications include titanium grade 9, titanium 3-2.5, and titanium 3AI-2.5V.

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