Titanium is a highly desirable metal that works great for a variety of functions and in many different industries. As it is a metal, one would likely think titanium is best used in manufacturing, aerospace, automobile, marine, firearms, military and building. You would be right to associate titanium with these industries.
The biggest reason titanium is so popular is its unique, favorable characteristics. Titanium behaves differently from other metals and has properties that make it do things other metals simply can’t.
Among the highest regarded, favorable properties of titanium include its durability and strength, light weight, flexibility, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility.
The latter characteristic of titanium is what makes it popular to use in the medical and dental industry. Titanium’s biocompatibility property is what makes it a life-saver.
How is titanium used in the medical and dental industries?
In the field of medicine, you’ll find titanium used in:
Titanium’s biocompatibility means that it can be fused to bone without the risk of severe side effects, reactions or infection. The composition of the titanium is readily accepted by a patient’s body. Whenever any type of invasive surgery to have joints inserted needs undertaking, chances are, the surgeons will use titanium for the necessary replacements.
Much like bone and joint replacement procedures, titanium is also heavily used in dentistry for dental implants. The part of the implant that goes into the jawbone is titanium. Titanium’s biocompatibility makes the implant accepted by the body and encourages bone growth. As a result, a patient’s gums are strengthened, the implant is sturdy and at a low risk of infection, complications, and discomfort.
Titanium doesn’t come in just a solid state, but it can also come in the form of powder. Besides titanium rods being placed inside the body, titanium powder can be applied to the skin for an effective sunscreen. The titanium oxide (titanium powder) prevents the sun’s harmful UV light from penetrating the skin.
3D Printing With Titanium
Chances are, you’ve heard of 3D printing, which has yielded amazing results and possibilities. 3D printing has many advantages over traditional manufacturing including a faster turnaround time, greater accuracy and the ability to produce customized, highly detailed parts.
The success of 3D printing has made it a good fit for the medical and dental industries in producing implants, crowns, artificial joints, screws, plates, and prosthesis.
It was inevitable that the success and technology of 3D printing would be combined with the durability, lightness, and corrosive-resistance of titanium.
Titanium 3D printing has yielded even more advantages over traditional 3D printing including:
1. Greater Design Complexity: The use of titanium powder creates a minimum thickness of .3-.4 millimeters which allow for more detailed and complex designs than what can be accomplished in traditional 3D printing.
2. Excellent Strength and Durability Properties: The strength and durability of titanium aren’t lost during the melting process of 3D printing, meaning the resulting product is durable and strong. In fact, larger products can be produced with titanium 3D printing instead of piecing together smaller portions.
3. Quicker Turnaround Time: Products manufactured using titanium 3D printing typically take from a few hours to a few days to complete.
In titanium 3D printing, fine powder of titanium 6Al-4V is used. This specific grade of titanium is non-toxic, biocompatible, has a high melting point (3200 degrees F), is strong and durable, is lightweight and corrosion resistant.
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