What are the medical applications for titanium and titanium alloys?
Titanium is a type of metal with numerous spectacular natural properties. It is known to have high corrosion resistance; heavier than aluminum; lighter than steel; and stronger than steel and aluminum. This metal is in high demand in various industries because of its unique and distinct properties.
Titanium Forms and Grades
Titanium is made available in the market in different forms such as sheet, coil, rod, bar, tubing, plate and wire. Titanium plating is available in commercially pure grades 1 through 4 and each grade is used for specific applications. Grade 2 Titanium has good strength and great corrosion resistance while Grade 4 Titanium is the strongest of all unalloyed grades, ideal for use in aeronautical and marine applications.
One of the most important applications of titanium plating is in the medical field. Because it is non-toxic, titanium can fight corrosion caused by the fluids in the body. The metal’s strength to weight ratio qualifies it for a great implant material or a body replacement tool. If titanium plates are inserted into the body, the plates can last up to 10 years without the need for maintenance. The titanium plate is so durable that it will not break even after 20 years.
Another property of titanium is its being non-ferromagnetic. This means people with titanium plates in their body can still use magnetic medical devices. Even with titanium, patients can still have MRIs and NMRIs without worrying about any side effects or reaction.
Biocompatible and Corrosion Resistant
For biomedical applications, the materials used are those which exhibit specific properties, the most important of which are biocompatibility and high corrosion resistance. These two properties are required for fabricating medical implants. Commercially pure titanium is regarded in the medical field as the best biocompatible metallic material because of its surface properties which create a stable and inert oxide layer. They are the most suitable metallic materials used in making implant devices for:
- artiﬁcial hip joints
- bone plates
- cardiac valve prostheses
- artiﬁcial knee joints
- artiﬁcial hearts
- screws for fracture ﬁxation
Dentistry devices such as implants, bridges, dental implant prosthesis components (screw and abutment), crowns and over-dentures are also made of titanium alloys. Endosseous dental implant applications specifically require CP titanium.
It has long been considered as an exotic metal. However, in recent years, it is no longer seen as an expensive metal but as a material in more commercial applications such as sports equipment, eyeglass frames and art and even in designer jewelry (titanium rings).
Do you know of the other applications for this spectacular metal?