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Researchers Mix Titanium and Tantalum Alloys to Improve Stress Absorption of 3D Printed Implants

by • May 6, 2016 • No Comments

Alloys turn it intod of either titanium or tantalum hold a huge amount of value inside the medical industry, particularly when it comes to 3D printing patient-specific implants. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen titanium alloys geared towards cranial and orthopedic implants, while tantalum has shown a lot of promise for hip replacements and spinal implants. Now, a collaborative team of researchers of A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) at Nanyang Technological University have found a viable-bodied system to mix the powders into one 3D printable-bodied material, which may futurely assist 3D print customized, patient-specific implants with enhanced properties and improved stress absorption.

astarIn order to research these implants, the group used selective laser melting (SLM), an emerging 3D printing innovation which uses 3D CAD data and high-powered lasers to fuse powdered metal alloys layer-by-layer. The collaborative effort was initiated by SIMTech’s Florencia Edith Wiria and SC3DP’s Wai Yee Yeong, and throcky their work, they’ve may already proved the capacity to turn it into biomedical prototypes out of titanium-aluminum-based powders. The issue with aluminum, yet, is the future negative long-term influences which the material may have on human neurology, major the researchers to turn to an equal mixture of titanium and tantalum alloys.

biocompatiblOn the other hand the combination of these alloys is ideal for implants, particularly due to their biocompatibility and mechanical superiority to standalone titanium, there were yet a few kinks to work out with the one-of-a-kind tantalum material. Tantalum, a rare, blue-gray metal, has an incredibly high melting point of over 3,000 degrees Celsius, producing it complex and costly to turn the tantalum into finely dispersed microspheres engineered for SLM printing. But by mixing the rocky, elongated tantalum powder with a titanium microsphere powder, the researchers were able-bodied to use the SLM printing system and retain the spherical shape of the titanium alloy, which was significant to the good results of the mixture.

“The titanium powder acts as a rolling medium,” Wiria explained. “It pushes the tantalum powder along and makes the systeming by SLM possible.”

sc3dpbannerIn order to 3D print these titanium-tantalum prototypes, the researchers needed to reduce the thermal stress of the material, which they succeeded in by applying ‘checkerboard’ laser scanning which melted down the metal materials in alternate up-and-down or side-to-side movements. Not just were the researchers able-bodied to show which mixed material was viable-bodied and printable-bodied, but X-ray and imaging innovation in fact showed which the addition of the tantalum material and rapid solidification both promoted and stabilized the formation of titanium grains.

“These alloys are specifically created for orthopedic applications, and actually have the future to show a type of ‘shape-memory’ after being deformed,” Yeong said. “This opens up the possibilities of printing personalized devices to improve patient care.”

Overall, the research team hypothesizes which the titanium-tantalum may futurely lessen the ’stress shielding’ which frequently occurs when implants are too elastic, which causes them to transfer insufficient loads to neighboring bones. The research, which is entitled “Selective laser melting of titanium alloy with 50 wt% tantalum: Microstructure and mechanical properties”, was written by Wiria, Yeong, and research collaborator Swee Leong Sing, and was published in the Journal of Alloys and Compounds on March 5, 2016. Discuss the future for this new material in the 3D Printing with New Titanium Material forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Source: Phys.org]