Biomedical implants, sporting goods and firearm parts can now be made using perfectly spherical particles of titanium produced by a breakthrough technique developed in Canada. This new technique will allow manufacturers to produce bone replacements that actively encourage the natural bone around them to grow, pacemaker filters and intricate firearm and watch parts.
The process, called Plasma Atomisation Technology (PAT), produces spherical titanium powders in three broad size ranges by melting titanium wire using a plasma torch, forming a spray and cooling the tiny droplets once they have formed into spheres. By using spheres instead of the angular irregularly shaped powders produced by other techniques, manufacturers can accurately spray the titanium balls onto a surface to give a coherent coating or pack them in tightly to a mould to prevent the final product from shrinking once heated.
The largest spheres can be used to coat implants, giving a porous network that actively encourages bone re-growth so strengthening the bond between the implant and natural bone. The smaller particles can be used for spraying as thin films or for pressing into intricate components such as the filters used in pacemakers. As the titanium powders are spherical the material is less likely to pick up too many contaminants in the production process resulting in a high quality end product.
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