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Titanium Vs Gold Vs Steel


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42 replies to this topic

#1 TheInkSac

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 01:26

I have been writing mostly with fine and medium gold nibs. Occasionally I switch it up and write with a steel nib. I am beginning to see more and more lens with titanium nibs, but am yet to try one. Besides added flex, I wanted to know what some people see as an advantage to a titanium.
Mike @ TIS

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#2 inkstainedruth

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 03:04

I would be curious about that as well. In the past, titanium has been very expensive to process (much like aluminum once was: IIRC, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have had a crown that was half made of aluminum; but even the Emperor of France -- not to mention a large swath of the rest of Europe -- couldn't afford one that was completely made out of aluminum). My understanding is that titanium is stronger than steel and possibly less prone to corrosion and oxidation/rust.
Are the pens you're seeing geared towards the high-end/status pen market (i.e., as a modern-day equivalent to Napoleon's crown, as in "if you have to ask, you can't afford it"), or are titanium nibs being touted for some other reason (such as durability, or flex)?
Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth
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#3 tonydent84

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 03:14

I don't think I own any titanium nibs. What pens come with them? For me, between gold and steel, I prefer steel. I don't know why, I just do. Whenever I can discard a gold nib for a steel one (plated with another color or not), I do so. I see the softness of the gold nibs, though, as they are usually much more pronounced than on their steel counterparts. But some steel nibs can be just as soft.
I no longer own any fountain pens... Now they own me.

#4 Earthdawn

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 03:35

I don't think I own any titanium nibs. What pens come with them? For me, between gold and steel, I prefer steel. I don't know why, I just do. Whenever I can discard a gold nib for a steel one (plated with another color or not), I do so. I see the softness of the gold nibs, though, as they are usually much more pronounced than on their steel counterparts. But some steel nibs can be just as soft.


Interesting pen this is ... The Stipula Model T ~ Titanium nib w/flex




#5 shiroboshi

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 12:22

To add a bit of info on titanium:

It is about as strong as steel, but has only half the density, making it rather effective as a structural material, especially in tensile applications where many other light alloys fail.

As mentioned, titanium is quite corrosion resistant. The main reason is, ironically, that it oxidises extremely quickly and forms a thin (a few monolayers) layer of highly resistant TiO2 on its surface when exposed to air. TiO2 is highly inert and will protect the metal below from most chemical interactions.
Interestingly, this property has been applied by a number of jewellers, to create coloured areas on Ti surfaces by either laser irradiation or by anodising, causing coloration by thin film interference.... Its chemical resistance has also made it a popular jewellers material, since it does usually not cause kin discolouration and does not get attacked by the chlorine in swimming pools, etc. The material is also highly biocompatible.

While Titanium is rare(ish), another reason for its cost is the difficulty in refining and processing it. The material is incredibly ductile, making cutting and machining operations difficult. The cost is further added to by the fact that the aerospace industry snaps up most of the world's production, and most of the rest goes to the medical industry... I'm not seeing the cost of Ti develop like the cost of Al anytime soon... :)

I think the main reason why the stuff is interesting as a FP material is the high tensile strength and elastic modulus, meaning you can make it into a very durable flex nib. The corrosion resistance is of secondary importance, because the remaining parts of the feed and the rest of the pen would usually be damaged long before anything would happen to the Ti :)


Marc

#6 Russ

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 12:35

Ti is outstanding. I have a Ventidue with Ti, and love it. I wish more pens offered Ti nibs - - how about a Townsend, M1000, YOL Grand, Paragon, or 149? :roflmho:

#7 rochester21

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 15:07

I`ve read here on fpn that parker 75 also comes with a TI(titanium) nib.

#8 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 15:23

There seems to be problems with it, in it was tried with pens all the way back to the '80's I think.

For flex, vintage steel and gold seem to work better than titanium, because it has not seemed to take over that market.

In that many spend a lot on a pen, titanium has not taken off, or more of the companies would have accessed nibs of it.
It seems like a novelty item.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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#9 TheInkSac

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 03:11

Thanks. I did just pick up an Alter Ego Stipula. I thought it came with an 18 kt nib but it had a titanium. I am about to ink it up and compare it to my others. I never realized that titanium is more expensive.
Mike @ TIS

#10 raging.dragon

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:36

I would be curious about that as well. In the past, titanium has been very expensive to process (much like aluminum once was: IIRC, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have had a crown that was half made of aluminum; but even the Emperor of France -- not to mention a large swath of the rest of Europe -- couldn't afford one that was completely made out of aluminum). My understanding is that titanium is stronger than steel and possibly less prone to corrosion and oxidation/rust.
Are the pens you're seeing geared towards the high-end/status pen market (i.e., as a modern-day equivalent to Napoleon's crown, as in "if you have to ask, you can't afford it"), or are titanium nibs being touted for some other reason (such as durability, or flex)?
Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


Titanium nibs cost more than Steel and less than Gold. The marketing behind Titanium nibs seems to be more flex than Steel at a lower price point than Gold.

#11 raging.dragon

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:40

I`ve read here on fpn that parker 75 also comes with a TI(titanium) nib.


The Parker 75 has a 14K Gold nib, perhaps 18K in some markets. The pen you're thinking of is most likely the Parker T1:

http://www.vintagepe...Parker_T1.shtml

#12 raging.dragon

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:47

To add a bit of info on titanium:

It is about as strong as steel, but has only half the density, making it rather effective as a structural material, especially in tensile applications where many other light alloys fail.

As mentioned, titanium is quite corrosion resistant. The main reason is, ironically, that it oxidises extremely quickly and forms a thin (a few monolayers) layer of highly resistant TiO2 on its surface when exposed to air. TiO2 is highly inert and will protect the metal below from most chemical interactions.
Interestingly, this property has been applied by a number of jewellers, to create coloured areas on Ti surfaces by either laser irradiation or by anodising, causing coloration by thin film interference.... Its chemical resistance has also made it a popular jewellers material, since it does usually not cause kin discolouration and does not get attacked by the chlorine in swimming pools, etc. The material is also highly biocompatible.

While Titanium is rare(ish), another reason for its cost is the difficulty in refining and processing it. The material is incredibly ductile, making cutting and machining operations difficult. The cost is further added to by the fact that the aerospace industry snaps up most of the world's production, and most of the rest goes to the medical industry... I'm not seeing the cost of Ti develop like the cost of Al anytime soon... :)

I think the main reason why the stuff is interesting as a FP material is the high tensile strength and elastic modulus, meaning you can make it into a very durable flex nib. The corrosion resistance is of secondary importance, because the remaining parts of the feed and the rest of the pen would usually be damaged long before anything would happen to the Ti :)


Marc


The expense of Titanium mostly comes from the difficulty of extracting Titanium metal from the ore.

#13 raging.dragon

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 04:52

There seems to be problems with it, in it was tried with pens all the way back to the '80's I think.

For flex, vintage steel and gold seem to work better than titanium, because it has not seemed to take over that market.

In that many spend a lot on a pen, titanium has not taken off, or more of the companies would have accessed nibs of it.
It seems like a novelty item.


I'd like to see nib makers experimenting with spring tempered moderate to high carbon stainless steel. I'm pretty sure that's the "secret" of those vintage steel flex nibs.

#14 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 13:39

Bock can run off semi-flex, maxi-semi-flex/'flexi' in steel or gold to any company that is willing to pay for them to go out and buy the steel or gold alloy they used before.
None do.
There is no 'lost' secret, just bottom line thinking. Gee, and that pre'bonus days. :yikes:

I have vintage Bock nibs from regular to 'flexi'. Some in gold, some in steel.

Degussa who bought up Osmia's nib making machines in 1932, made nibs from regular to easy full flex out of steel, also in Gold. I have Osmia (Degussa made) nibs in both semi-flex and 'flexi' and Degussa nibs in steel that are easy full flex.

The German War nibs up to say middle-late '44-45 were superb steel nibs....but Osmia/Degussa had been making such nibs before gold was taken away from the German pen companies in the middle of 1938.

US Morton made the best nibs in the world 1900-1920's. They sold the machines and the technology of hand annealing and forging nibs to Kaweco in April of 1914, including shipping the workers and families to Germany. Then came August and the American trainer's went home.
The women working for Kaweco used something like a Bunsen burner with the iridium tip stuck in a potato so the tip didn't burn to heat up the gold nib.
They then hand hammered the gold.
When Kaweco went bankrupt the first time in 1930, when they came back, the same or next year under new ownership, they did what everyone else did, buy the alloy and stamp it out. The nib was still as good as Soennecken and MB, but it wasn't Kaweco any more.
No one can afford the labor for the best nibs.

If one goes back into the 1860's and a bit later, dip pen nibs were hand annealed and re-forged too.

Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 11 September 2012 - 13:42.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 


#15 Kaweco

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 15:27

Wow! Isn`t he an A+ researcher? :clap1: ;) But this is not absolutely right:

........The German War nibs up to say middle-late '44-45 were superb steel nibs.....

The nibs had been made from V2A steel and the problem was, that the nib corroded in the area, where it was on touch with the hard rubber of the fp. The problem never had been solved , possibly it was the sulphur from the hard rubber combined with the iron- gallic- inks. In the very late time of the war they only had "trash" steels.

#16 alexander_k

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 15:29

No one can afford the labor for the best nibs.


From my limited understanding of metallurgy, I think you are right: more than the material it's how you make it that makes the difference. In fountain pens we associate steel with inexpensive, often poor nibs, while gold has always been a mark of higher class. I've just one with a titanium nib, a Delta, and I'm quite pleased with it (but I have to point out that I'm no good with flex nibs).

#17 raging.dragon

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 15:49

Wow! Isn`t he an A+ researcher? :clap1: ;) But this is not absolutely right:

........The German War nibs up to say middle-late '44-45 were superb steel nibs.....

The nibs had been made from V2A steel and the problem was, that the nib corroded in the area, where it was on touch with the hard rubber of the fp. The problem never had been solved , possibly it was the sulphur from the hard rubber combined with the iron- gallic- inks. In the very late time of the war they only had "trash" steels.


I found a spec sheet with the composition of V2A:

http://www.limatherm...ecification.pdf

According to this V2A is today called DIN 1.4541 or AISI 321. If that had corrosion issues, I wonder what alloy is used today for steel nibs? My guess is a low carbon alloy, as that would have better corrosion resistance, especially if it were something like 316L. The low carbon content would also go a long way toward explaining why the stuff can't be heat treated to make it springy enough for flex nibs.

#18 Kaweco

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 17:10

After the prohibition of gold usage in private commodities Palladium- Silver alloys and V4A Supra steels were used in Germany and during the shortage of raw materials during the war, V2A and worse qualities. As you suggested :thumbup: , the V4A Supra has the ASME number 316. The formula is X 5 Cr Ni Mo 17-13-3. It is one of the Austenit- steels which were invented by Krupp and I think it is used until today. Try to attract the nib with a strong magnet, austenitic steels, like the old Mutschler/ Reform nibs are anti- magnetic. The Pelikan M200 nibs attract a little bit to the magnet. I didn`t try the Pelikan CN nibs yet.
In the case of the VA steels the corrosion stability comes from the high percentage of Chrome, not from a low percentage of Carbon. These steels are not easy to gold-plate, it is more a mechanic "gluing" process. The gold will disappear when you treat the nib for a longer time in the ultrasonic cleaner.
The pic shows an early Artus/ Lamy nib made by Bock, you see the corrosion at the basis.
Btw, some years ago I gave Mr. Bock an old bottle of ink, the blue- black Pelikan fluid, highly corrosive with the strange smell of phenol. He wants to make corrosion experimentes with his steel nibs.
Kind Regards
Thomas
Posted Image

Edited by Kaweco, 11 September 2012 - 17:17.


#19 raging.dragon

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 21:09

After the prohibition of gold usage in private commodities Palladium- Silver alloys and V4A Supra steels were used in Germany and during the shortage of raw materials during the war, V2A and worse qualities. As you suggested :thumbup: , the V4A Supra has the ASME number 316. The formula is X 5 Cr Ni Mo 17-13-3. It is one of the Austenit- steels which were invented by Krupp and I think it is used until today. Try to attract the nib with a strong magnet, austenitic steels, like the old Mutschler/ Reform nibs are anti- magnetic. The Pelikan M200 nibs attract a little bit to the magnet. I didn`t try the Pelikan CN nibs yet.
In the case of the VA steels the corrosion stability comes from the high percentage of Chrome, not from a low percentage of Carbon. These steels are not easy to gold-plate, it is more a mechanic "gluing" process. The gold will disappear when you treat the nib for a longer time in the ultrasonic cleaner.
The pic shows an early Artus/ Lamy nib made by Bock, you see the corrosion at the basis.
Btw, some years ago I gave Mr. Bock an old bottle of ink, the blue- black Pelikan fluid, highly corrosive with the strange smell of phenol. He wants to make corrosion experimentes with his steel nibs.
Kind Regards
Thomas
Posted Image


Carbon in the steel will react with Chromium to form carbide particles, thus reducing the amount of Chromium in the bulk metal and thus reducing it's corrosion resistance. Though I'm not certain the steels used in nibs contain enough carbon for this to be significant (it becomes an issue with the high and ultra high carbon steels used for knives and cutting tools). The Molybdenum in 316/V4A also improves corrosion resistance compared to 304 or 321/V2A.

#20 Kaweco

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:52

Carbon in the steel will react with Chromium to form carbide particles, thus reducing the amount of Chromium in the bulk metal and thus reducing it's corrosion resistance. Though I'm not certain the steels used in nibs contain enough carbon for this to be significant

There is only 0.05 % Carbon in the steel. Even a totally reaction with Chromium will shift the amount of Chromium only marginal and far away from the edge of 12% Chromium which corrosion free steels must have by passivating the surface. (Don`t miss to correct the ratio of stoichiometrie by multiplicating the mole factors). Possibly we will come out of the Austenit area to the Austenit + Ferrit area when the melt is cooling down.
Kind Regards
Thomas






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