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Tantalum and niobium provide highly biocompatible alloys for medical applications

In its material product line, the company offers titanium, tantalum and niobium based alloys designed to meet the latest medical technology standards. Plastic surgery and dental implants are subjected to high mechanical loads during their lifetime. Although many materials currently used in additive manufacturing, including stainless steel and cobalt-chromium alloys, are able to cope with these mechanical stresses, there are concerns that they release toxic or allergenic elements that can cause inflammation in surrounding tissues and rejection of implants.

An important prerequisite for all medical implants is their biocompatibility. Because they are designed to stay in the body for long periods of time, the materials used in the production of implants do not have any effect on the organism, regardless of the technology used to produce them. The certification of biocompatibility of materials used in medical implants is the main approval standard for its official regulatory approval.

In its biocompatible alloys, the company offers AMPERTEC spherical ti-42nb powders as well as tantalum alloys. These are produced using an electrode induction melting gas atomization process and are said to be completely spherical with negligible amounts of satellites. The spherical shape of the powders improves their AM processability.

Because of its processing properties, AMPERTEC spherical ti-42nb powders can be manufactured using selective laser melting (SLM) processes at almost full density (99.95%) additive. This results in low levels of internal stress, which means that thermal post-treatment steps such as diffusion annealing or thermal isostatic pressure (HIP) are usually not required. In addition, the phase composition of these materials is not affected by the laser melting process; Similar to atomized powder, the ti-42nb added is pure beta phase. The additive manufactured components also have a fine-grained microstructure with extremely uniform distribution of elements and are said to be free of Ti or nb-rich phase segregation in the powder by scanning electron microscopy using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy studies.

After mechanical analysis through tensile and compression tests, the company says the processed material has a combination of high elasticity and strength. Because the tensile elasticity of ti-42nb is similar to cortical bone, the use of this material can reduce the stress shielding between bone and implant, as well as the associated inflammation or implant loosening due to mechanical mismatch.
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