Titanium-tantalum alloy to improve absorption of implants

11 May

Titanium-tantalum alloy to improve absorption of implants

Although the 3D bio printed implants will take a few more years to be actually made and use by surgeon in hospitals. Also the 3D printed titanium orthopedic devices are almost a reality now. The #d printing medical industry is thankful to the titanium’s excellent mechanical attributes and infection free properties as well it seems to be the splendid 3D printing material for the 3D printed knee and hip implants. In the near future we could see more of 3D printing implants as a research team from the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is making further efforts to make it a successful research for implants. The Singapore based agency had found a way to immensely improve the stress absorption levels of the 3D printed implants. They have suggested the use of the titanium-tantalum alloy mix in place of the presently used titanium-aluminum mixture.

Florencia Edith Wiria was the developer of the new innovation from the A*STAR’s Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and Wai Yee Yeong of the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP), which is part of the Nanyang Technological University. Journal of Alloy and Compounds, had recently published their findings in their paper entitled ‘Selective laser melting of titanium alloy with 50 wt% tantalum: Microstructure and mechanical properties’.

With this collaboration they tend to find material solutions in order to improve and upgrade the biomedical products made with the titanium. The biomedical products made with the titanium aluminum alloy do possess some great properties for a while whereas after sometime it loses the hold of its properties. A recent study has found out that this mixture is not the most favorable solution. While titanium can be used as the only material , the mixtures materials are mechanically superior. Most importantly the concerns have developed for the long term effects of the aluminum titanium mixture of the human neurology.


Due to the above concern the Singaporean researched led to find out the tantalum mixture. Equivalent to titanium tantalum is consistent and also has great material properties. The only drawback of the tantalum mixture is that is has the odd feature of the high melting pint which is around 3,000 derees Celcius. Hence it is not a cost effectively feasible mixture to deviate the unevenly stretched tantalum particles into fine microspheres that are essential for the Selective Laser Melting 3D printing.

Later the researchers discovered it might not be important to melt the tantalum particles. Eventually after the mixing of the materials and letting it rest for quite a few hours they noticed that the titanium-tantalum mixture could be much more evenly spread rather than the tantalum powder for the SKM 3D printing. In course of the experimentation process the mixture revealed many other properties like it was not jus printable but also did retain the spherical shape of titanium. Wiria further said, ““The titanium powder acts as a rolling medium. It pushes the tantalum powder along and makes the processing by SLM 3D printing possible.”

The new titanium-tantalum mixture proved to be more accurate for the biomedical products that the titanium-aluminum mixture. Further research in the X-Ray and imaging technology the researchers found that the tantalum mixture stabilizes and promotes the formation of the laminar, strong titanium grains. A ‘checkboard’ laser was used that melted the powder in alternate up and down or side-by-side motion that helped decrease the thermal stress on the materials. 

According to the researchers the novel mixture of titanium-tantalum scan further turn to b a pathway to the future of wide range of personalized biocompatible implants. Te titanium-tantalum mixture will be far more resistant than the presently 3D printed titanium devices. The tantalum solution is expected to strengthen the titanium parts as the currently used materials are too flexible and are not able to transfer stress to the adjoining bones very well. According to Yeong, “These alloys are specifically designed for orthopedic applications, and even have the potential to show a type of 'shape-memory' after being deformed. This opens up the possibilities of printing personalized devices to improve patient care.”

Image Source:EL Tantalio

Chris Joel (Author)

Titanium-tantalum alloy to improve absorption of implants
Chris Joel is a writer at 3D Printers Online Store. Hailing from South London, he has a degree in English Literature. His interests include the application of 3D printing technology to art and its popularization.