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Quality of Life
Titanium—A Global Material of Choice
Low Modulus of Elasticity
Food and Pharmaceutical
ITA’s Medical Technology Committee Updates
ITA’s Medical Technology Committee Members
Medical editions of Titanium Today



Medical Technology

Quality of Life
Titanium improves the quality of individual lives when it is used for medical and dental implants, prosthetic devices, eyeglasses and even lightweight wheelchairs. World product shipments are estimated at over 60,000 metric tons, of which at least 50% was used in applications other than aerospace.

Titanium is the most bio-compatible of all metals due to its corrosion resistance, strength and low modulus. This excellent level of biocompatibility as determined by in vitro cell culture tests has been confirmed by in vivo observations directly in numerous patients with total joint prostheses. The unwanted biological effects are about 10 times less frequent in patients with titanium implants than in those patients with implants made from other alloys. Where Ti-6Al-4V has been used, the low concentration of titanium, vanadium and aluminum in body fluids from patients with heavy wear on the prosthesis demonstrates the low dissolution rate of the wear particles.

Titanium is thus widely used for implants, surgical devices and pacemaker cases. Its use for hip replacements and other joints, has been well established for some 40 years. Titanium not only fosters Osseointegration (joins with bones & tissues), it is non-magnetic and non-radio opaque. Titanium instruments are used for micro-surgical operations and in military light weight field trauma relief kits.

Some prostheses are engineered with roughened surfaces or porous coatings (such as hydroxy-apaptite) which hasten the bonding of titanium with adjacent hone. Surface treatment, including shot peening, nitriding and diamond like coatings may be used to provide enhanced wear resistance.

Commercially pure titanium. Ti-6Al-4VELI and Ti-6Al-7Nb (367) continue to be the most frequently specified materials for prosthetic use. Earlier concerns about release of vanadium and/or aluminum from alloys have been largely resolved.  Commercially pure titanium and most alloys are effectively nickel free and will not cause nickel dermatitis.

Titanium—A Global Material of Choice
Titanium in the 21st century has emerged as a high-performance metal specified for demanding industrial, medical and commercial applications throughout the world. A wide spectrum of applications verify titanium’s strong global profile: aerospace engine components and structural components built in North America and Europe; desalination systems in the Middle East; modern, high-profile architectural structures in Asia; offshore oil and gas exploration throughout the world; and an array of chemical processing and infrastructure projects in all major international markets. 

Further evidence of titanium’s global presence can be found in the recent expansion of metal and sponge production capacity at sites in Russia, China, Japan and the United States. And industry experts from the four corners of the world gather at the annual TITANIUM conference and exhibition, sponsored by the International Titanium Association, bringing news of titanium developments and success stories. Titanium indeed has come of age as a global material of choice.

Low Modulus of Elasticity
Titanium’s low modulus means excellent flexibility and strong spring back characteristics. This promotes its use in various springs for aircraft and valves, where a modulus half that of steel, but a strength equivalent to steel allows a titanium spring to be half as large and heavy. This property also benefits auto parts (which must absorb shock), medical implants (that must move with the body), architecture (where roofs must resist hail stones), as well as recreational gear (golf clubs, tennis racquets, mountain bikes and skis).

Food and Pharmaceutical
Titanium demonstrates excellent corrosion resistance, not only to various food products and pharmaceutical chemicals, but also to the cleaning agents utilized. As equipment life becomes a more critical factor in financial evaluations, titanium equipment is replacing existing stainless steel apparatus. Titanium can also eliminate the problems of metal contamination.

Titanium is thus widely used for implants, surgical devices and pacemaker cases. Its use for hip replacements and other joints, has been well established for some 40 years. Titanium not only fosters Osseointegration (joins with bones & tissues), it is non-magnetic and non-radio opaque. Titanium instruments are used for micro-surgical operations and in military light weight field trauma relief kits.

Some prostheses are engineered with roughened surfaces or porous coatings (such as hydroxy-apaptite) which hasten the bonding of titanium with adjacent hone. Surface treatment, including shot peening, nitriding and diamond like coatings may be used to provide enhanced wear resistance.

Commercially pure titanium. Ti-6Al-4VELI and Ti-6Al-7Nb (367) continue to be the most frequently specified materials for prosthetic use. Earlier concerns about release of vanadium and/or aluminum from alloys have been largely resolved. Commercially pure titanium and most alloys are effectively nickel free and will not cause nickel dermatitis.

Titanium’s remarkable combination of metallurgical and physical characteristics can generate an array of benefits for demanding industrial and commercial applications in global markets. It’s most successfully employed when the initial design exploits its unique attributes, rather than when it’s merely substituted for another metal. In some demanding applications, like jet engines and medical implants, titanium allows the item to perform to its maximum potential.

Titanium has been used in medical applications since the 1950’s. It’s the most biocompatible of all metals and in prosthetic and joint-replacement devices it actually allows human bone growth to adhere to the implants so they last longer. Pacemaker cases are made from titanium because it resists attack from body fluids, is lightweight, flexible and non-magnetic. Artificial heart valves are also made of titanium.

Titanium is one member of a family of metals (that includes niobium and tantalum) that color anodizes because it is “reactive”, i.e. it reacts when excited by heat or electricity in an electrolyte by creating a thin oxide layer at the surface.   The oxide layer presents itself in color due to an interference phenomenon. This layer is a very thin, transparent coating that derives its ‘color’ when white light reflects off the base metallic surface, only to be “interfered with” within the coating.   Some frequencies of light waves escape and recombine with surface light to be either reinforced or cancelled out—producing the color we see.

Anodized coatings can be applied to titanium for a number of reasons:  General color-coding, Product/part identification, Material Identification, Size identification, Corporate color matching, Product appeal enhancement, Aesthetics, and Enhanced properties.

Titanium anodizing provides some products with improved properties compared to those in a raw or “unfinished” state.   Test data validate numerous mechanical benefits, and observation with a 10x eyepiece reveals the leveling effects of the process.   Scars from machining and/or deburring are ‘leveled’ into a continuous, smoother, gray-colored surface. The two most common types of treatment are Type II anodizing and color anodizing.  Type II Anodizing Anodic treatment of titanium and its alloys is typically performed in accordance with SAE International’s AMS 2488 Standard. The process is covered under an Aerospace Material Specification, as it was first developed for treatment of parts associated with the air and space industries. Advantages associated with the Type II titanium anodizing process include increased lubricity, anti-galling, and increased fatigue strength. As these advantages have become increasingly apparent, the popularity and acceptance of this coating have grown considerably within the medical device industry, especially in terms of its applicability to the finishing of orthopedic implants.   The anodization process accelerates the formation of an oxide coating under controlled conditions to provide the desired result.   Since the coating is biocompatible as well as non-toxic, the process lends itself to achieving drastic improvement in implant performance.  The coating is created using various electrolytes, whereby the devices are made positive (anodic), with a corresponding negative (cathodic) terminal attached to a D.C. power supply. As the process creates a penetrating coating, there is no measurable dimensional change when measured with a micrometer accurate to 0.0001 inch (2.5 µm). Quality inspection (100% visual) is performed on completed parts. Controlling factors that impact the end result include: cleaning and surface preparation; solution limits and control; voltage limits and control; temperature limits and control; and post-anodizing treatment and packaging.

Products for which titanium anodization is applicable range from orthopedic and dental implants, to undersea mateable connectors, to aerospace components.  Within the orthopedic industry, products for which this type of treatment is often applied include bone plates and screws, intramedullary nails and rods, spine “cages,” and other hardware commonly associated with trauma or spinal surgery.


The annual TITANIUM conferences offer insights into the current state of the titanium industry, as well as provide high-value networking opportunities for titanium producers, original equipment manufacturers, distributors, fabricators, metallurgists, engineers and designers, and vendors who offer products and services to the global titanium community. To register for this year's TITANIUM event, visit the ITA website ( or contact the ITA at 1-303-404-2221.

All ITA Members are invited and encouraged to participate on committees. The ITA adheres to strict antitrust guidelines and abides by a separate resolution in which any conversation related to price, capacity or market forecasts are not permitted at any ITA gathering. Please contact Jennifer Simpson if you are interested in becoming a Member of the ITA or joining any ITA Committees.


ITA's Medical Committee's Updates
Titanium in Medical Technology Hosted in Mobile, AL 

Medical Technology

Stephen Smith, president, Edge International/Supra Alloys, moderated the session on Medical Technology. Vince Rocco of VSMPO gave a talk on titanium medical technology from “A Supplier/Producer Perspective.” Rocco began with a pie chart that illustrated the overall titanium market breakdown by industry: a 3 percent slice for medical implants and devices compared with 42 percent for aerospace and 38 percent for industrial applications. He said medical titanium product forms include wire, plate, bar and rod, billet, sheet and powder. The most widely used medical titanium alloys are commercial pure (CP) titanium, Ti 6Al-4V, Ti 6Al-4V ELI, Ti 6Al-7Nb, and Ti 15Mo.

Aerospace and industrial markets will drive the titanium industry as a whole” for the foreseeable future, Rocco observed, noting that the medical market most likely will hold its current 3 percent slice through the year 2026. “Stocking programs and buffer stock will insulate end users in times of inconsistent requirements. The further down the production process the required product form is, the longer the lead time and more expensive it will be. Medical titanium alloys are sometimes specialized and thus can compete for melt slots and bring added costs and lead times during high demand periods. External markets can have a significant effect on titanium production and raw materials pricing. Stringent quality standards can minimize some risk but can also limit the amount of material available and the amount of producers/suppliers that can supply it.”

Rob Acton, global director/strategic partnerships for Carpenter Additive, discussed “AM (additive manufacturing) in the Medical Industry: Effects of Titanium Powder Quality on Performance and Powder Contribution to Part Cost.” Acton said medical AM “offers increased complexity of design and patient-specific solutions. The global additive manufacturing market is projected to witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.20 percent during the forecast period to reach $6.2 billion by 2021, from $2.5 billion in 2015. More than 100 FDA clearances have been granted for medical devices produced via additive manufacturing.”

Acton mentioned the factors that affect the economic evolution of titanium powders and the importance of maintaining the quality and contamination control of a AM system.

Titanium in Medical Technology Hosted in Vienna 

Speakers at the seventh annual TITANIUM EUROPE Conference and Exhibition, hosted and organized by the International Titanium Association (ITA), held May 13-15 at the Austria Trend Hotel Savoyen in Vienna, shared their expertise in a variety of business topics including titanium supply and demand trends, powder metallurgy, additive manufacturing, commercial aerospace, medical, and industrial business sectors.

Ali Madani, founder and managing partner, AVICENNE Consulting, offered his vision of the global titanium medical market. Madani founded AVICENNE Consulting in 1992. He holds a Science degree from Université Paris Sud Orsay and École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, followed by an MBA in Innovation Management from Paris Dauphine. Since 1990 he has been working on strategic and marketing studies in the medical sector.

Madani’s forecast included the impact of additive manufacturing for titanium medical implants. Sharing his perspective, he said t
he orthopaedics market, including hip, knee, spine, trauma, extremities and orthobiologics $44 billion in 2018, representing a growth of 4 percent compared with 2017. “We’ve estimated that in Europe in 2018, 5.1 percent of all hip, knee, shoulder, trauma items are made using Additive Manufacturing. The rest are forged, cast or machined. We estimate that, in 2021, 7.6 percent of the total hip, knee, shoulder, trauma parts will be made using additive manufacturing.”


Maciej Krystian, a scientist with the Biomedical Systems Center for Health and Bioresources at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) GmbH, reviewed the “Latest Achievements in Titanium Proceeded by Equal Channel Angular Pressing (ECAP).” Krystian said that Ti-6Al-4V ELl, is the most widely used titanium alloy for medical implants. ECAP, one of the severe plastic deformation (SPD) techniques, “achieves a strong microstructural refinement of metallic materials down to the sub-micrometer and even nanometer range, thereby increasing the strength without changing their bulk shape or sacrificing their ductility. Ti-6Al-4 V ELI after ECAP followed by a special thermomechanical treatment exhibits a tensile strength higher than 1300 MPa. This value means an increase of strength of at least 30 percent as compared to conventionally treated material.


As a consequence, he explained that load-bearing implants or implant sections made of ECAP-processed Ti-6Al-4 V ELI “can be designed smaller and thus enable maximum patients’ mobility and quality of life. Moreover, the ultrafine-grained microstructure in ECAP materials is the origin of low-temperature/high-strain-rate superplasticity.

“The development and application of new materials and process technologies enables targeted improvement of material properties and the design and production of innovative implants,” Krystian continued. “In this context, the AIS team collaborates closely with leading national and international research institutions and companies. Our research and development activities include both permanent and biodegradable metal-based implants.”



Recycling of Titanium and Titanium Alloy Turnings

Filippo Maria Oreglia, Titanium and Nickel Scrap Manager, CO.FER.M. SpA, discussed the “Recycling of Titanium and Titanium Alloys Turnings.” In particular, he focused his remarks on the “recycling of titanium and titanium alloy turnings to be remelted for aeronautical applications, decontamination from aluminum metallic and other metals.”

Oreglia said the scenario of the Italian market of titanium turnings led CO.FER.M to focus on an innovative recovery facility. “It consists of a set of specific machines that, at the end of the process, will obtain titanium turnings decontaminated, provided that the base of the entire process is the same type of  Titanium alloy, for example only Ti 6Al 4V, and not one titanium alloy with different titanium alloys mixed together. He said the CO.FER.M. facility “treats Ti6Al 4V, commonly known as Grade 5, which is specifically used for aeronautical applications or for biomedical applications as Ti6Al 4V ELI (extra-low interstitials) in the same plant could be processed singular type of turnings such as Ti 6Al 2Sn 4Zr 2Mo, Ti 6Al 2Sn 4Zr 6Mo, Ti 6Al 7Nb (and others).

CO.FER.M.’s facility for the treatment of turnings follows a specific process based mechanical drying by centrifugation and on the passage through an “eddy current” machine for aluminum decontamination, “while magnetic iron alloys are removed through demagnetization belts positioned before the centrifuge (spin-dryer) and eventually after the centrifuge and after the eddy current machine, he said. “In the processing of turnings, when these come from ingots or slabs they are particularly long, therefore they are put into a crusher to reduce their length, so that they will be processed more easily and directly in the decontamination machine (eddy current), after passage on a demagnetization belt positioned at the end of the crusher. The process of decontamination may require up to three passages through an eddy current machine in order to remove completely the metal contaminants, mainly aluminum and copper, if present, and in some cases small pieces of bronze and brass.”


He explained that the eddy current or Foucault currents are induced in conductive metal masses that are immersed in a variable magnetic field or that, moving through a constant or variable magnetic field, is this variation of the magnetic field that generates these currents. “Normally the titanium turnings require a maximum of two passages through the eddy current machine and in some times a single passage may be sufficient to guarantee the specifications requested by the clients.”

Oreglia concluded by noting that “the process described in this presentation is covered by Patent No. 102018000011004 issued by Italian Ministry of Economic Development (Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico).”

Titanium Fabrication

Oleg Mityashkin, project engineer, Hermith GmbH, outlined details of his company’s patented “Warm Wire Drawing” technology for the production of titanium wire for additive manufacturing. According to Mityashkin, the technology, compared with the well-known cold drawing, increases the speed and rate of deformation of the wire, which leads to higher productivity. He said that, with warm wire, there’s no need to anneal the wire between the stages in the warm drawing technology.


Hermith will supply its warm wire to manufacturers producing titanium fasteners and medical implants. Mityashkin said a new modular design of the wire production line was developed on the basis of our technology. The new production line was presented to Hermith’s main customer (Norsk Titanium), a leading producer of the additive manufactured airplane parts. “We have already agreed with Norsk Titanium on the first supply of titanium wire,” Mityashkin said. “Now our wire production process is undergoing qualification by other aerospace companies.”

As indicated in his slides, Mityashkin said will produce the titanium wire in a vertically integrated process from sponge to the final product, controlling the quality at each stage of production.

Conference proceedings video and slide presentations are available for viewing here.

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ITA’s Medical Technology Committee Members:

Stephen Smith, Edge International (Chair)
Eric Baum, Laboratory Testing Inc.
Alex Fadick, VSMPO-Tirus, US
Bob Fletcher, Structure Medical, LLC
Viv Helwig, Vested Metals Intl’, LLC
Colin McCracken, Oerlikon Metco (Canada) Inc.
Vince Rocco, VSMPO-Tirus US
Tom Zuccarini, Dynamet Incorporated
Jennifer Simpson, International Titanium Association

Medical editions of Titanium Today

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