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polishing titanium

Polishing Titanium: A Comprehensive Guide to the Process

Polishing titanium is an important aspect of titanium parts fabrication. It includes several techniques and requires precision and patience because it removes material from the surface of titanium to smoothen and give a mirror-like polished look. The titanium finishing process helps optimize intrinsic properties, including strength, biocompatibility, corrosion, high temperature, and wear resistance.

Titanium polishing offers enormous benefits by reducing surface roughness and improving the physical properties with additional protection and a superior surface finish. However, titanium and its alloy can be difficult to polish due to the anisotropic properties of titanium alloys. Hence, it is crucial to understand how to polish titanium parts.

This guide delves into an in-depth discussion of the titanium polishing process, how to polish it, and why it is important to polish titanium parts. Continue reading to the end to learn more about the applications of polished titanium and alternative surface finishes to titanium polishing. Let’s dive in!

What Is Titanium Polishing?

Titanium polishing is a mechanical finishing process involving a buffing wheel and polish wax to improve the surface roughness of titanium parts. Polishing is a critical step after machining titanium; it gives titanium parts optimized protection and an aesthetically appealing surface finish with 0.1 – 0.05 µm as Ra (average roughness).

The polishing process offers high control and precision in polishing small and complex titanium parts. With the right tools and techniques, the titanium polishing process provides impressive results. However, the sandpaper grade and unpolished titanium condition often determine the machined titanium parts’ final color and texture.

A Stepwise Guide to Polishing Titanium with a Mirror Finish

a stepwise guide to polishing titanium with a mirror finish
Polishing Titanium

There are a few simple steps to polishing titanium parts and achieving a desired finish. We’ll explore these basic steps below:

Step 1: Degrease and Clean the Titanium Part

The first step to polishing titanium is to degrease and clean dirt, oil residues, and grease left behind by the manufacturing processes. Preparing the metal’s surface before performing any finishing operation is essential to avoid complications or flawed surface polish.

Hence, degreasing agents like spray rising should be used to eliminate oil residues or grease on the titanium part. Then, fill a bowl with enough clean water and rinse the titanium part in the clean water.

You can add a small quantity of the desired cleanser, including glass cleanser, mild soap, or ammonia, to the water and leave the titanium part in the bowl for a few minutes. After, rinse the titanium part with warm water and use a clean towel to dry.

However, bleach and chlorine can influence the titanium part’s properties and aesthetic quality. Similarly, product engineers employ ultrasonic cleaning in cases of deep cleaning.

Step 2: Sanding Process

You must use abrasive media such as sandpaper to smoothen the titanium part’s whole surface. Sanding is like precision grinding; it removes the oxidized oxide layer and creates a thin titanium coating. Similarly, it enhances the metal polish’s adhesion.

Apply a lubricant on the surface of the titanium part. Then, choose the preferred grade of sandpaper and put it on a hook pad connected to a drill. You can begin the process with rough grades and gradually change to smooth grades along the line depending on the desired finish.

Apply a lubricant on the sandpaper and place it on the end of the titanium material, moving it over in the horizontal direction until it reaches the other end. Continue until you have moved the lubricated sandpaper over the entire part’s surface.

Repeat this for different grades of sandpaper. However, applying gentle and even pressure to all areas helps achieve even surface patterns.

Step 3: Buffing Process

The buffing process provides the preferred bright glass-like surface. You must use an alcohol-based cleanser to clean the titanium’s surface to achieve this. After, polish the titanium part’s surface using a buffing wheel and metal polish, applying water intermittently to reduce the heat that the process generates.

Step 4: Final Touches

Some titanium parts sometimes bear visible marks and missed spots, even after buffing. Therefore, you must give a final finish to conceal these marks with paint polish. To achieve this, apply a paint polish to a clean towel and rub the titanium surface evenly until the marks get darker.

Spray the surface with water; allow it to dry, then apply the sealant to another towel and rub it on the titanium surface. After leaving the surface to dry, remove excess liquid with a clean cloth.

Different Grades of Titanium Surface Polishing

cnc machined titanium with polish
CNC Machined Titanium with Polish

Various surface finishes are available for titanium polishing in part fabrications depending on the polishing speed, force, and buffing wheel used for the process. Below are the common types:

Rough Polishing

The rough polishing of titanium parts involves using a titanium polish wax and an abrasive buffing wheel made of silicon oxide. Rough polishing requires minimal polishing force. Additionally, it is primarily suitable for rounding off the corners of machined titanium parts.

Medium Polishing

Rough polishing may create visible marks with a dull surface. You can use polish wax and wheels made of aluminum oxide to conceal these surface defects. It enhances the smoothness and surface brightness of the titanium parts.

Fine Polishing

Fine polishing creates a more reflective and fine surface on titanium parts. Machinists use a mirror wax polish and matted soft cotton buffing wheel to exert more pressure on the titanium part’s surface to achieve a fine surface.

Mirror Polishing

Mirror polishing gives titanium parts a polished or mirror-like. Use a combed soft cotton buffing wheel and polished wax to create this finish on your titanium parts. However, it is ideal to use a buffing wheel because it allows the polishing of hard-to-reach places on your machined parts.

The Most Common Types of Titanium Polish Tech

Mechanical Polishing

Mechanical Polishing is a common technique that uses abrasive materials to remove surface irregularities and achieve a smooth finish. The process starts with coarse abrasives and progresses to finer ones. Polishing pads, wheels, and compounds are used. It’s versatile for surface preparation but can be labor-intensive and may not achieve extremely low roughness.


electropolishing schema
Electropolishing Schema

Electropolishing is An electrochemical process that dissolves a thin layer of material from the titanium surface to reduce roughness and enhance the finish. The titanium part is submerged in an electrolyte solution and connected to a power supply, creating a controlled anodic reaction that smooths the surface. Electropolishing is highly effective for achieving very smooth and clean surfaces, making it ideal for medical implants, aerospace components, and other high-precision applications. This method also helps remove surface contaminants and improve corrosion resistance.

Chemical Polishing

Chemical Polishing uses chemical solutions to selectively dissolve surface material, achieving a smooth finish. The titanium part is immersed in a bath containing reactive chemicals, such as acids, which etch away surface imperfections. Chemical polishing is particularly useful for complex shapes and internal surfaces that are difficult to reach with mechanical methods. It provides a uniform finish and is often employed in the aerospace and medical industries. However, it requires careful control of the chemical composition and process parameters to avoid over-etching or uneven polishing.

Plasma Polishing

Plasma Polishing is A high-energy process that employs plasma jets to remove surface material and produce a high-quality finish. The titanium part is exposed to a plasma jet, which ionizes the surface material and removes it in a controlled manner. Plasma polishing can achieve very low surface roughness and is suitable for high-precision applications. It is often used in the semiconductor and aerospace industries, where extremely smooth surfaces are required. The process is efficient and can handle complex geometries, but it requires specialized equipment and expertise.

Why Is It Important to Polish Titanium Parts?

polished titanium parts
Polished Titanium Parts

Most manufacturers are of the opinion that a good surface finishing process is as crucial as the manufacturing process. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider polishing your titanium parts:

Enhance Physical and Aesthetic Appeal

The product’s physical appearance is as critical as its function. Polishing titanium parts offers improved functionality and usability. Moreover, good surface polishing enhances the texture of a titanium part and leaves a professional-grade gloss on the metal’s entire surface.

Improve Resistance

Aside from rendering a part useless, corrosion often ultimately leads to the destruction of metal parts. Polishing titanium parts optimizes their corrosion resistance property even though it is a metal known to be resistant to various chemicals and corrosive elements.

Similarly, titanium parts wear out quickly, causing a gradual deterioration of their function and surface condition. Titanium finishing improves the metal’s wear resistance and reduces frictional forces when the metal comes in contact with another surface.

Optimize Electrical Conductivity

Generally, titanium exhibits poor electrical conductivity. Electrical conductivity is one of the critical properties of a good metal part. Besides, a polished finish allows electric current to travel through titanium parts with little resistance. Hence, polished titanium is primarily useful in the automotive industry.

Ensure Longevity

The longevity of a manufactured item is one of the critical qualities manufacturers look out for. A metal part with a good surface finish is usually durable and lasts longer than unfinished parts. Polished titanium parts exhibit better resistance to various environmental factors that can deteriorate their condition. Hence, titanium polishing ensures the finished parts last for many years.

Typical Application of Polished Titanium Parts

application of polished titanium parts
Application of Polished Titanium Parts

Polished titanium parts are widely used in various industries due to the vast benefits they provide. We’ll explore some of the applications of polished titanium parts in different sectors:


The aerospace industry is a key user of polished titanium due to the combination of material properties, including low weight, corrosion resistance, and outstanding strength properties. Due to its outstanding heat transmission, polished titanium is perfect for creating superior aircraft engine components. Compressor blades, fans, and other engine components are typical polished titanium parts.

Marine Engineering

Manufacturers often use different types of titanium alloys as their first choice for marine applications since they are all marine grades. These alloys exhibit high strength and corrosion resistance, especially in seawater.

Additionally, these grades are applicable in seawater desalination because they can withstand the adverse effects of chlorine. As a result, they are an ideal alternative to the conventional copper alloy pipes used in marine engineering. More so, titanium is a commonly used material in making buildup components of various pieces of deep-sea equipment.


titanium automotive parts
Titanium Automotive Parts

Polished titanium components have a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio. Automobile industry manufacturers use these components because their low weight helps improve fuel efficiency and reduce the vehicle’s operating cost. Polished titanium exhibits high heat conductivity and can reduce the risk of overheating. Hence, they are the main components of a vehicle’s exhaust system.

 More so, the rust and corrosion resistance properties of polished titanium optimize the lifespan of the vehicle’s exhaust system. Also, manufacturers use polished titanium to create electric vehicle batteries, brake calipers, valves, and other mechanical components.


Polished titanium exhibits excellent resistance to solutions of various chemicals and foods. As a result, manufacturers in the orthopedic and dental field widely use polished titanium to create different implants and prosthetics. These implants don’t break when exposed to strong impact because of their high flexural strength.

Titanium is more compatible with the human body than other metals, such as aluminum. The human body accommodates polished titanium and does not cause an immune response. Therefore, experts in the medical sector use polished titanium for different artificial bodily joints, including hips and knees.


titanium dinnerware
Titanium Dinnerware

Polished titanium parts typically have an exceptional mirror-like finish. Therefore, they are typical jewelry materials. Likewise, titanium material is well-suited for making titanium rings and wristwatches due to its non-toxic and lightweight properties. In addition, polished titanium parts are gentle on sensitive skin and do not wear easily, even with continuous use.

Other Surface Finishes Compatible with Titanium Parts

titanium anodizing parts
Titanium Anodizing Parts

Aside from titanium polishing, product designer and manufacturers often use other finishing options for machined titanium parts. Here are other surface finishes manufacturers give titanium parts:


This electrochemical finishing process involves dipping the titanium in an electrolyte solution. Then, the personnel passes an electric current into the solution to transform the titanium part’s surface layer to titanium oxide. In addition, titanium anodizing reinforces the natural oxide layer, making it highly durable and corrosion-resistant. However, the anodizing process may influence a titanium part’s thermal conductivity properties.


Brushing gives titanium parts a flawless and bright surface. You can remove scratches or cutting tool marks and improve uneven titanium surfaces with different abrasive brushes. This finishing process creates an opaque surface on titanium parts, even though it may not glow as a glass-like surface. Even though the brushed finish improves the appearance of metal parts, it may affect its corrosion-resistant properties. Furthermore, its high operation cost is a major setback to the process.


The electroplating process creates a protective layer on the surface of titanium parts with metals such as nickel, gold, or tin. It enhances the physical properties and optimizes titanium parts’ wear and corrosion-resistant properties. However, aside from being a time-consuming process, it may produce waste that is harmful to human health and the environment.

Powder Coating

Powder coating is another viable alternative finishing process manufacturers use to enhance titanium parts. This electrostatic process involves applying dry powder on the surface of titanium to create a reinforced finish.

Unlike the traditional painting process, powder coating creates a stronger protective layer that doesn’t fade easily and can withstand extreme weather conditions. Nevertheless, this process can be quite costly and powder coated parts are susceptible to deterioration when exposed to UV rays.


titanium cnc machining and surface finishing services
Titanium CNC Machining and Surface Finishing Services

Manufacturers and end-users both benefit from polishing titanium parts. However, it is crucial to polish titanium material cautiously due to its unique properties to achieve a better surface finish. This guide has discussed everything you need to know about the titanium polishing process. However, AT Machining is here for you whenever you need the help of an expert with your titanium polishing project!

AT-Machining is a top precision CNC machining expert. Our team of professionals leverages our cutting-edge technology and good years of experience to deliver superior quality and precise titanium parts with a top-tier smooth finish with a glass-like glow. Don’t hesitate to contact us to enjoy our top-tier titanium part finishing services.


What are the Common Titanium Polishing Tools and Equipment?

Depending on the preferred process, titanium surface finishing involves the use of various tools and equipment. These include special abrasive polishing compounds, diamond polishing pads, cotton polishing wheels, buffing wheels, sisal, and brushes.

What Are the Typical Titanium Polishing Techniques?

Standard techniques product designers and engineers use to polish titanium include electropolishing, lapping, magnetorheological polishing, plasma, vibratory, diamond, mechanical polishing, and coarse/intermediate/fine cutting of titanium for polishing.

Is It a Good Idea to Polish Old Titanium?

Polishing old titanium parts helps restore its shine and make it look as good as new. However, clean the titanium part with a cleanser to remove grease and oil residue that may hinder polishing.

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