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High-end Stainless Steel Alloys Used in Starships

Space X’s Starship rocket undergoes flight testing on April 20, 2023, EST, at its launch site in South Texas, USA. The rocket has the largest carrying capacity in human history and is made of stainless steel.

Stainless steel material has been used by humanity for many years, but in the aerospace field is rare; Space X’s Starship uses the material 301 series stainless steel and a special type of 304L stainless steel, which has been cold-rolled treatment has higher strength and toughness.

In addition, SpaceX also used a new alloy in the starship, ca、.

TypeMaterialProperties
Main materials used in starship301 Series Stainless SteelEasy to form, good weldability, better corrosion resistance, low-temperature environment, the strength will rise dramatically, is twice the room temperature.
 304L Stainless SteelGood corrosion resistance, excellent weldability, carbon content ≤ 0.03%, better toughness, low-temperature environment, the strength will rise dramatically, is twice the room temperature.
 30X AlloyHigh and low-temperature environments have high strength, toughness, and lightweight.
General materials used in the rockets manufacturingAluminum Alloy (Aluminum-Lithium Alloy)Light and strong, but lose strength at high temperature
 General materials used in the rocket’s manufacturingLightweight, high strength, high stiffness, high heat resistance, complicated processing, susceptible to moisture
 Titanium alloy (for aerospace)Light weight, high strength, high-temperature resistance, difficult to process

Titanium and High-End Alloy Applications

The selection of stainless steel and 30X alloys reflects Space X’s insight and innovation in the metallic materials market.

The metallic materials market is large and diverse, encompassing a wide range of types, grades, shapes, and uses of metallic materials such as iron, copper, aluminum, zinc, tin, nickel, cobalt, and titanium. Metallic materials have various applications in various fields, such as industry, construction, transportation, energy, consumer goods, etc.

We- Thrive Metal Products company specialize in processing metal materials according to the needs of our customers.

Although the metal materials market is large and diverse, it is also facing several challenges and changes:

  • On the one hand, the metal materials market is affected by environmental protection, resource constraints, trade friction, and other factors, and there is a need to improve production efficiency, reduce costs, and minimize pollution and waste.
  • On the other hand, the metal materials market is also driven by new technologies, demands, and standards, which require continuous innovation and improvement to enhance performance and functionality and meet higher and more complex application requirements. Against this backdrop, the market for high-end alloy products like stainless steel alloys has become an important and promising segment.

We use titanium alloys as a case study to explore how these metals are currently used in the Chinese market and what future trends are emerging.

Titanium alloys refer to various alloy metals made from titanium and other metals. Developed in the 1950s, titanium alloys are widely used in several manufacturing sectors due to their high strength, good corrosion resistance, and heat resistance.

 

Titanium alloy in 2015 ~ 2020 compound growth rate of 17%; the growth rate is faster, mainly due to the 2020 military industry investment acceleration, promoting the overall growth of titanium alloy.

China’s titanium alloy early import dependence is strong; with the breakthrough of key technologies of domestic head enterprises, the localization rate gradually increased, especially in the civilian field of domestic brands dominating the market; imported titanium alloy is mainly used in aerospace and other high-end areas. With the downstream demand for various industries, a gradually wide range of applications and the national defense needs to enhance the overall market size to maintain more than 20% growth in the future.

Titanium alloy is currently mainly used in the chemical industry, aerospace, and marine engineering, accounting for a total of 76.9%, of which the chemical industry primarily valued titanium alloy corrosion-resistant, high-temperature characteristics, the current market ranked first, accounting for 51% of the future with the release of the demand for aerospace, is expected to be close to 36 billion yuan of chemical industry and aerospace demand in 2025.

Marine engineering and shipping industry demand is growing faster, is expected to reach a total of 6 billion in the future, followed by life and leisure in the field of titanium alloy is mainly interested in the lightweight as well as the strength of the titanium alloy will be more used in some sports equipment, eyeglasses frames, works of art, etc., is expected to be in the scale of 2025 in the 2.2 billion or so.

Comprehensively speaking, from the point of view of growth potential, titanium alloy products have high growth, of which titanium alloy to 2025 is expected to exceed 40 billion scales.

From the downstream application point of view, titanium alloys are mainly used in the chemical, aerospace, and military industries (aircraft). Hence, the market volume is smaller compared with other high-end alloys. However, as the application of titanium alloy in new scenes continues to expand, it will gradually penetrate more civilian markets.

If enterprises want to enter the high-end alloy market, they need to choose different strategies according to the characteristics of the track. Titanium alloys have a high potential for application in the civil field, and the difficulty of technological conquest is relatively low. Still, the high-end application field (military) has high requirements for parameters and quality, and the head enterprises mainly dominate the market. Hence, it is necessary to enter the market at different levels.

In addition to titanium alloys other than high-temperature alloys due to their application characteristics, high technical barriers, the key technology in the hands of the head of the state-owned enterprises, the difficulty of entry. The other tracks have mature technological development and solid coping ability.

Where can we expand high-end alloy applications?

In the high-end alloy market, other alloy types also have extensive potential, SpaceX’s Starship being a case in point. The previously mentioned 30X material, which offers higher strength and lower weight, is representative of a high-end alloy.

Alloy 30X is an austenitic stainless steel containing chromium, nickel, and molybdenum, which can maintain good performance at extremely low or high temperatures and is much cheaper than carbon fiber materials. Musk said the 30X alloy, produced through SpaceX’s research, development, and testing, is a “super material” that will allow the starship to resist extreme temperature and pressure changes while flying and landing in space.

SpaceX’s starship demonstrates the application and prospect of 30X alloy in the space field and provides reference and inspiration for other fields. For example, in the automotive area, 30X alloy can improve the lightweight and energy-saving of automobiles; in the construction field, 30X alloy can improve the durability and aesthetics of buildings; and in the medical area, 30X alloy can provide better biocompatibility and antimicrobial properties.

In addition to SpaceX’s starships and 30X alloys, many other high-end alloys have essential applications and prospects in various fields.

The applications and prospects of these high-end alloys reflect the vast potential and demand in the high-end alloy market.

With the advancement of science and technology and the development of society, human beings have higher and higher requirements for metal materials, which not only need to fulfill the essential functions and properties but also need to have more special properties or functions to adapt to more complex and extreme environments and conditions.

As a result, the high-end alloy market will face more opportunities and challenges. It will require continuous innovation and improvement to provide better quality and more diversified products and services.