Anyone make a good titanium Zippo shell?

I don’t know if the outer part of a Zippo is called a shell or not but you probably know what I mean. It’s the outer housing for the insert that you open and hold while using it. It seems like lots of options exist and different companies seem to make them but not in titanium. Am I missing something?

Does anyone make a good one out of titanium? Titaner used to make one but it has been out of stock for years now. Ideally, I’d like to keep it under a hundo.

Titanium is famous for being steel-strength but lighter. It isn’t as especially strong as people often consider it to be though (a lot of people think it’s nigh indestructable), and may not be a useful metal for all applications, especially in very thin amounts. It’s very pliable when it’s thin.

I don’t know that that’s why they don’t use it for zippos, though.

High quality steel is much stronger than titanium, but titanium is lighter.

Now, titanium alloys are a different story strength-wise.

Yeah, I thought about editing in an ‘approximately’, but maybe that’s still not the right word. Anyway, they use titanium in stuff that needs to be steel but has to also be light, like aircraft and so on. I just don’t know how robust it would be in a thin-sheeted zippo format. I’ve had titanium camping gear that was outright flimsy. Very resistant to rust, though.

Curious as I was pondering why….does appear to have been at least one available, if they were being truthful:—Titaner-Titanium-Zippo-Lighter-Case—87594

My thoughts were about the manufacturing process to create a thin shell. Grade 2 is the most common in consumer goods and it’s reasonably ductile but to be able to form such a small item as a lighter shell it would have to be awfully thin stock with $$$ dies that require more frequent touch-ups or replacement ($5000.00 would be on the low end for such a die and they can easily be 4-5 times higher in cost for more complex dies). They would likely have a higher failure rate from stress cracks and such, further increasing costs. Larger goods like the popular backpacking pots/mugs are easier to cope with (I think there are still only three main factories that produce those, plus whoever SnowPeak uses, and they’re all drop forged). Grade 5 is the strongest commercially available alloy but it’s generally machined or roughly forged and finished from solid stock, rather than formed. “Pure” titanium is out there and maybe could be used for this since it’s softer still than Grade 2, but oddly it also costs more (or used to). Additional cutting or machining features, or welding, add further even though that’s fairly common work for good machine shops these days and less expensive than it used to be. Maybe for the relatively small market of Zippo shells it’s just not worth the effort/investment.

Comparing metals…it’s density. If you were to compare like thicknesses between “any steel” and “any titanium”, Ti will come out on top with most metrics but you know it just depends what you’re after and these days there are some Really Freakin’ Impressive steels available if you want to pay for them. The beauty is that you can get similar “strength” in a titanium product using far less material and thus much less weight. Any metal can bend and flex when thinner…heck you can even buy very nice titanium foils (thicker stuff, not jewelry type foil) that has a lot of great uses and qualities, and it can be held together with typical office staples. But even when thin, titanium retains a lot of advantages over steel. In aircraft, correct me if I’m wrong, but the use of titanium had more to do with heat stresses and dimensional stability at supersonic speeds rather than weight. It had a host of challenges that had to be worked out but it was worth it despite all of that, for the application.

I didn’t realize that, that’s really cool.

Quick Aliexpress rabbit hole…found this store that has a few models (some more listings besides this one):

Gonna need a coupon…! :slight_smile:

Some of the earlier planes were loose as a goose and all rattly on the ground, even spewing raw fuel all over the place during flight checks and takeoff, but once they were in the air and going fast, the metal(s) would expand from friction/heat and seal everything up tight. All engineered, worked a treat. But on the ground you’d think a toddler had put it together with his erector set parts!

It’s really amazing what Man has done with metals…elements. Computer chips being another wonder of the world…

Oh, right, I remember them saying the sr-71 was like that.

Those do look pretty thicc.

The SR-71 Blackbird (Mid-60’s + 2 decades or so) fits that description…. not just “earlier planes”. Maybe the timeframe depends on how old one is. :wink:

Zippo produced some solid TI lighters from 2001-2006. Now, the only way to get a genuine one is by Ebay (or other private sale site). Be ready to pay a lot. If you don’t care about having a genuine or not, you can get a TI shell on Aliexpress.

My father was a metallurgist at Pratt and Whitney and was involved in the development of the J58 engines that power the plane. I remember him telling me when I was a kid about the fuel leaking and the high speed friction that would seal it up. The SR71 would take off, then after it heated up, it would have to perform a mid air refueling then be able to go on with its mission.

Thanks for the flashback.

You may have me beat there by a little bit, Don. :slight_smile:

That’s neat…I’ll bet he was full of great knowledge to share. That stuff is harder and harder to find these days, so many changes and as general society in the US has become more service/consumer instead of making & manufacturing, a lot of what used to be more common knowledge about materials and methods and such…it’s withering away. I had an acquaintance that was (still is, I think) an engineer with GE working on a couple of their jet engines - he refused to speak much at all about anything related, though. I work with an ex-fighter pilot who was active around that time period…I’ll have to see what he might be able to share. Sure was a grand period in science and exploration!

That’s interesting. I wonder what the difference between versions would feel like. For instance, the “Light Armor” is 1mm thick and has a beefed up hinge. That’s thicker than the regular “armor” Zippos. The heavier model is 2mm thick with an even thicker hinge. If machined well, that could feel wonderfully solid. Of course, it weighs about twice as much.