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Joining titanium to other metals and coloring?


#1

I have no experience with titanium other than looking at finished
pieces. I had a job where the customer had her heart set on a
titanium shank, finished to a certain grey color and then a platinum
top holding 3 stones. I turned down the job because I just don’t know
enough about titanium. I’m wondering how I might have done it if I
had taken it? I’m assuming the join between the platinum and the
titanium would have had to be mechanical, true? Then once I had it
assembled, how would I have colored the titanium if its natural state
wasn’t dark enough? Would the darkening last?

Thanks!
Mark


#2

Hi Mark, As this customer is now history, any response here is
somewhat academic. Be that as it may, to answer your questions,
titanium can be joined to other metals in ways other than mechanical,
that is via welding or fusion under an argon shield or likewise
silver brazed under vacumn with pure silver. The best kit to do this
is the Pro-Fusion micro plasma set called the dual arc 82. Google for
it, its around $7000.00.

Also re colouring, the darker grey colour on titanium is the last
colour you get on heat colouring. Not pretty, its also only a
surface oxide coating not really long lasting.

So where, out of interest? did this lady customer get this idea of a
design? Did she show you a picture of one? someone else had made? if
so who? and did you look them up to see what the price was? It would
have been very expensive. My guess somewhere between 4 and 5 figures.

If it had been done before it can be done again. But at what cost in
equipment and research and experiment time?.

Even if you assembled it with mechanical means your really into
micro machining of small components needing taps and dies etc.

Titanium is difficult to thread especially in small sizes. Ive done
that.

If your interested in going down this road, the first thing you need
to do is go to a welding supply store and beg /borrow a length of
titanium commercially pure welding wire.Comes in 1/16in dia and 1/8in
dia.

Have a play with that. Its a steep learning curve after silver or
gold.

Have fun and dont be afraid to hit it.
Ted


#3

Hi Mark,

Yeah, it would have had to have been a mechanical joint of some sort.
I don’t think any of the welders would make a Ti/Pt joint that was
worth anything. I could be wrong, but I doubt it. You can’t solder to
it at all, in any normal setup. (It’s been kiln soldered in an inert
atmosphere kiln, but that’s just a little nuts for normal things.)

Ti is a sort of light grey, normally. In a ring, that’s all you’re
going to get. The anodized colors are caused by a very thin oxide
layer. On a ring, it wears of almost instantly. Might last for as
much as a month, but it’ll show scratches inside a day or two. There
are some high-tech coatings (like the TiN they use on cutting tools)
that will stand up to wear better, but they’re weird colors. (TiN is
gold, TiAN is purplish black, and the rest are just dull black. Can
be done industrially for… not horrible sums of money, but just
why you’d want to is an open question.)

Despite it’s bad rep, pure Ti isn’t all that hard. Sort of like
nickel silver. So it’s not the toughest thing for an everyday wear
ring. Some of the alloys (like Ti64) are much tougher, but they’re
also a lot more fun to work.

FWIW,
Brian


#4

Mark - joining titanium to platinum is very straightforward when
using a PUK welder. I don’t know about lasers, but the mini tig
fusion welders are almost magic.

Judy Hoch


#5

Hi All,

joining titanium to platinum is very straightforward when using a
PUK welder. I don't know about lasers, but the mini tig fusion
welders are almost magic. 

Interesting comment from you Judy, re the PUK welder.

Ive just spent a day trying to get one to do what I want, ie produce
proper fillet welds on 999 silver.5mm thick. And it would not.
Despite a pro user trying for me.

The reason is it does not produce a proper weld pool like a
continuous arc will, so for my needs at least it wouldnt be any good.
Its great for re tipping stone claws and tiny welds. Im sure it will
join titanium to platinum, but will it be strong enough for every day
use? I doubt it. If smiths like me guarantee our work for at least 20
yrs its got to be pretty indestructible.

Ive a piece of kit here I bought a long time ago and never
comissioned. A micro plasma tig set, goes down to.5 amp. That should
do the trick. Its at the back of a box body so its 2 days work to get
it out.

Will update you all when its working, or not!! Ive also a need for
400 snap head rivets in fine silver 1/16in dia by 1/4in overall. The
project has to be riveted because of our hall marking laws. Finally
found a way to make them as I cant buy them.

Can manage 100 an hour by hand.

How might you smiths do this? Ted.


#6

As to what’s the deal with the customer. She has had a skin reaction
to white gold in the past. Actually she said she can’t wear white or
yellow gold. Platinum or palladium is an obvious alternative but she
is a person who wantssomething different than that. She saw the
alternative metals wedding bands in a retail store she visited,
loved a dark grey Ti band she saw and got it into her head that she
wanted a titanium shank (same color) with a very specific platinum
three stone top. What made me uncomfortable was the design required
a super clean, crisp seam between metals plus there was that tricky
color issue. Better to say you can’t do it than disappoint someone.
She wantswhat she wants, who am I to say she can’t have it. It’s
just outside my wheelhouse. Mark


#7

Hi Ted,

Production design is pretty much what I do these days. Don’t quite
know what you mean by ‘snap head’ rivets.

Can you post a picture, or better yet, a blueprint?

Regards,
Brian

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#8
 loved a dark grey Ti band she saw and got it into her head that
she wanted a titanium shank (same color) with a very specific
platinum three stone top. What made me uncomfortable was the
design required a super clean, crisp seam between metals plus there
was that tricky color issue. Better to say you can't do it than
disappoint someone. She wantswhat she wants, who am I to say she
can't have it. It's just outside my wheelhouse. Mark 

I see a possibility of creating a titanium shank, and a Platinum 3
stone top, that are riveted together with a platinum decorative
rivit… just a thought.


#9

Hi Brian, here in the UK, snap head is the common term for a half
round rivet head. Simplest rivet head there is.

Regards as well,
Ted


#10

I like the rivet idea James. The coloring of the Ti is still a
problem to solve.


#11

Hi Ted,

Hi Brian, here in the UK, snap head is the common term for a half
round rivet head. Simplest rivet head there is.

Oh. That’s easy. (ish)

Step 1: how many do you need?

Step 2: do you have a fly press, or a kick press?

(yes, I know you have great bloody drop hammers, but this requires
something a bit less hungry for fingers.)

(And not nearly as much power.)

Depending on how many you’ve got to make, I’d make a steel block
that fit into the bottom die shoe of either a smallish fly press, or
a largish kick press.

Make one hole in the steel block just barely bigger than the OD of
your wire. (Maybe .20-.25mm bigger than wire. Tight enough the wire
can’t crumple, but not so tight that it can upset to hole diameter
and jam.)

The depth of the hole depends on how many you need. If under 100,
I’d recommend snipping the wire and torch balling the end. If more
than 100, it gets a lot kinkier.

What I’d do if I had lots to do would be rig up a clamping system
inside the block such that you could feed raw wire up through the
bottom of the block, grab it, and then dome the head with the press,
but that’s a lot of very serious machining. For 100-500, I’d snip
the wires all to a standard length, and drill the hole such that
about 1 diameter of wire stuck out proud of the surface. (If 1mm
dia. wire, leave 1mm sticking up above surface.)

Then rig up a steel block for the top die that just had a
hemispherical depression in it, of the diameter you need for your
heads.

Proceed to squish.

For the dead-end hole version, extraction will be fun. I suggest a
bench knife. I’d also drill the hole a smidge too shallow. start it
out with 2X OD sticking up. The wire will probably bend, but it
might not. You’ll have to fuss with it to find the right ratio of
stick-up to head diameter, versus having the wire crumple.

If you’ve got a bunch to do, once you get the hole dialed in, drill
a bunch more holes and hemispheres, so that each press strike gets
you 6-8 rivets.

If it’s just 100 or so, torch ball the end, and run the hole all the
way thru. Stick an air hose under the bottom and blow the formed
rivet back out.

You might have luck with a right angle hole intersecting the bottom
of the dead-ended hole for air blowout with that version. Just
don’tgive it anywhere where the silver can flow into the air line
and lock itself in place. (The more I think about doing the cross
drilling, the less it seems sensible. The silver will probably lock
into the other hole.)

You know, depending on how many you need, it may make more sense
just to buy them. At least here in the states, I’m sure I could dig
up a company that’d be willing to do a smallish (>1000) run of them
in sterling. Ask around in London or B’ham, and see if there are any
of the old manufacturers still around.

I know the folks at Sutton’s in Birmingham, they seem like they have
a pretty good handle on the trade. They may be able to point you to
either someone who already has the tooling, or may just have a box
of the things sitting on a shelf somewhere. Ask for Geoff or Maggie.
Failing that, Mike at Walsh’s down in Biggin Hill might know
someone. Can’t hurt to ask. Some of the trade silver dealers might
know someone too. They have to get their silver somewhere…

Regards,
Brian


#12
here in the UK, snap head is the common term for a half round
rivet head.

Why do they call it a ‘snap head’???

Janet in Jerusalem


#13

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your very interesting thoughts on this rivet question.

Yes, I do have fly presses, from 1 ton up to 10.

The plan is to make 100 buckles over the next 2 yrs. Each buckle
needs 4 rivets to join the sterling minted front to the bronze back.
Thats 400 rivets. Everything else is in place, inc the white and
cream kid leather. There dress buckles!!.

Yes I was with Suttons aweek ago, I know Maggie and her husband.
Nice people, to look at their PUK welder. Couldnt get it to weld what
I wanted. Thats for another project.

Found a rivet maker in the B’ham area who makes 20 million rivets a
month. Could feed my sterling wire through one of his small
machines. I supply the 13ft of wire. His charge was 100gbp plus vat
@20%. Reasonable!! but wanted to make my own.

I Had a toggle press that sat outside for a couple of yrs, brought
that in, stripped and made serviceable. Then as you suggested make
made a split die with a limited depth hole. So far so good. Tried
this with suitable concave punch in toggle press, but couldnt get
reliable results due to alignment problems. Not a press problem.

So decided to look around on the net and saw a oriental making heads
on ear wires with just a hole in a steel block with the wire balled
up. He was making flat ends to the wire with just a hammer…

So finished up making the following. This is an abstract from
another post i sent a couple of days ago to someone who wanted to
make rivets as well.

I took a piece of O1 by 1in wide 1/2 to 3/4 in thick by say 2 in
long, i drilled a 1/16th in hole right through located about the
center of the bar., then heated it red hot and quenched in oil.
Ordinary engine oil new or old will do. Old frying oil will work as
well.

Cleaned up all sides, inc the hole 2. Next I made a concave punch. to
do this, take a center punch grind and polish it to a proper
hemisphere the size you want the rivet head to be.

  1. Then take a piece of carbon steel like an old worn out knife
    sharpener, get these at car boots for pennies, make great punches,
    soften it, cut it off square, about 4/5in long make a small detent
    with a drill in the end. make red hot, then use the item 2. to form
    the depression in the aforementioned old piece of steel.

Reheat red, quench in oil. Then grind back to a taper so the edge of
the depression is about 20/1000 in, in from the punch end…

  1. Now I couldnt get sterling to ball up well, without using a flux,
    also on account of the solidus liquidus difference. so I used 999
    silver, its dead easy. I put my propane/oxygen torch in my leg vice
    with the flame horizontal. Brought the 1/16th silver wire down into
    the flame holding the wire vertically. Balls up v/fast. I have 6
    wires some 8in long on the go, after balling up dip into old battery
    acid, dip in water with an alkaline in it, do both ends of the wires.

Snip off 1/4in long shank. and repeat. When you have say 50 off,
next step.

  1. place 1 on a flat surface, I use a block of steel on my bench.
    Drop the cut off rivets in the 1/16th hole, needs to be a loose fit.
    put 3 onto ball, and tap with a hammer. only takes seconds. Perfect
    half round head. if youve balled up too much, put rivet into a pin
    chuck and linish off the surplus. Otherwise Pick up bar, use finger
    nails or another pin chuck with a wire pusher to remove rivet.
    Repeat.

So I can make 100 an hour. Im happy with that with just a hammer!.

The other great news is Ive comissioned the 6 minting dies Ive been
planning on. Look forward to using them.

Ted.


#14
So decided to look around on the net and saw a oriental making
heads on ear wires with just a hole in a steel block with the wire
balled up. He was making flat ends to the wire with just a
hammer..

When they’ve done hundreds of these, they can do them so they all
look identical. but the ever-so-slight variations from rivet to rivet
give it a handmade human touch which actually adds a lot, even if it
is not observed consciously…:-)… It may seem like a lot of
work, but if you just sit down and do it, it goes very quickly and
would probably take a lot less time than setting up elaborate
equipment. especially if you don’t have the equipment in your own
studio…:-)…

Janet in Jerusalem


#15

Hi Ted,

I’d have gone with the guy who could make them up, but that’s just
me. Trade money for time, and use the time to make more money.

The last few years with Knew Concepts growing like a weed has
radically changed my notions about what 'small quantities’means,
and where my attentions are best spent.

When we first started out, we were cranking the clamps out on a
manual lathe, one-at-a-blinking-time.

Then we got a CNC mill, and started making them in jigs that held
about 30 at a shot. So I’d make 250 or so, and figure that’d hold me
for a few weeks. And they were nicer, since the CNC could run more
tools than the lathe could. But I still had to stand there, flipping
the jigs around every few minutes.

Now? Twin spindle CNC lathe that cost a small fortune, and runs 8-10
hours a day, all by itself. Even grabs new bars of metal off the
rack when it gets hungry.

Now the smallest run I’ll bother tooling up for is 5000 parts. For
some of the parts, we run them 8-10 thousand at a go.

Whole different world. Admission tickets are pretty pricey, but it
definitely will alter your perceptions.

FWIW,
Brian