New alloy of iron and aluminium as good as titanium, at a tenth of the cost



I tried to read this but all I can see is

Bike frames and frames of bikes were framed by the news. While bike frames biked frames and added “framed bike frames”. Framey Frame Mcframerton says “Bike frames will bike and frame” Framed by his reaction bikes are said to be framing the frame out of bikes. Carbon fiber had no comment.


Think this will cause major image artifact, or be contraindicated entirely, for MRI though if used as an implant. The industrial application seems like a home run though.

1 Like

What I’m not understanding is that if the Titanium in a bikeframe costs $2.70 per pound more than steel (for a total of say, $7.00 per frame), why are they asking for a few extra thousand?


There is also tantalising tech on the horizon to refine titanium much more cheaply. Titanium is actually hugely abundant - the cost is down to the cost of refinement. Back before aluminium could be refined easily, it was a luxury material (super expensive cutlery was made from it!).


The titanium hip replacement picture is kind of out of place as it would be unlikely that they would be using this iron/aluminum alloy to make them. Firstly, you would never be able to have an MRI scan, and titanium has a cool property that bone likes to bind with it.
As for other applications, awesome.


Transparent Aluminum. That’s the ticket, laddie.


Yeah, I’m just having fun with my dream that someday a material will come along to make high end frames accessible to us all. My understanding is that it’s not so much the cost of the actual titanium, but the specialized working and welding of it that drives up cost.

Also, carbon can take on any form any engineer wished while titanium frames seem to remain pretty much basic tube design. Perhaps this has limited its scaleability? I have a buddy who is both a retired pro cyclist and a welder. Good question for him.


Yes indeed. Human immunocompatibility with titanium is the major reason we use it for implants. For other non-bio uses, it could be interesting. Steel and Aluminium are both pretty cheap and abundant.


The article mentions the reaction of nickel and aluminium in the alloy, likely resulting in nickel aluminide, an intermetallic compound.

Looks like the result is a nanoscale metal matrix composite, a highly interesting class of materials.

Edit: The B2 phase is said (in the Nature article) to be FeAl type, but it is also hinted that the nickel forms B2 phases with Al readily, so it may be a (Fe,Ni)Al type of material, a Fe-substituted nickel aluminide. Just an armchair guess…


Titanium can be printed.

There’s also 3D printed composites:
Physics Buzz: Ultrastiff Material Is Light As A Feather

The materials are so strong that they can remain stiff almost indefinitely and can hold up to at least 160,000 times their own weight.

“The connectivity is so high that the structure does not have an extra degree of freedom to bend under load," said Xiaoyu “Rayne” Zheng, a materials engineer at LLNL.

1 Like

Also the Washington monument:

The future can be printed*.

I laugh whenever I see the news breathlessly report that something has been taken over by computers. I’ve taken to doing that with 3D printing. In a way, it’s not the technology that is revolutionary, but how simply being aware that it exists changes our paradigm of what is possible. I remember people talking about 3D printing in the nineties, but never with the same sense of possibility that people do now.

*Instant book title. You’re welcome.


We truly are living in the future and the pace of change is just phenomenal. I think most people sort of drift into the future without any concept of what has just happened to get them there.

  1. “Hip joint” was not my first thought from that picture.
  2. Ti may cost $3/lb, but medical grade Ti and Ti alloys are many times that. And much of the cost of the final product is in design, machining, certifying safety and sterility, etc.

Ditto @winkybber - Ti parts and bikes are expensive because when a material is that hard and strong, so need much better equipment to machine and process and finish it. Also, price is not cost, and in sports many people are willing to pay a whole lot for a performance improvement whether it costs more to make or not.


You had me at ‘bike frames’.


Yeah, I was being a bit facetious. I’m well aware that Ti is a lot harder to fabricate, that the price of a frame is only very loosely tied to the raw materials, and that there is a cachet with Ti that translates to price. Great material for a winter bike here in Vancouver, though.

1 Like

IIRC, you can’t weld titanium in an oxygen environment, so you need a lot of specialized equipment just to work the stuff.

1 Like

Titanium is much more rigid than steel, so just saying ‘strong’ doesn’t tell a lot for a metal, strong in which ways?