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Titanium is a material valued for its biological, physical and mechanical properties. Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC), in collaboration with the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV) and the Catalan company AMES —a European leader in sintering materials—, are developing new titanium alloys for bone replacements that enable costs savings without comprising performance.

To date, the team has demonstrated the efficacy of these alloys in vitro. Specifically, they have focused on using powder metallurgy to fabricate new bone replacements from titanium particles.

According to the UPV researchers, one of the greatest problems currently faced in orthopedic and trauma surgery is substitution of bone structure: “Titanium, despite being widely used in biomedicine due to its excellent biocompatibility, is more rigid than human cortical bone, and this implies problems of bone fragility”. To overcome this limitation, the researchers have developed porous titanium structures that provide less rigidity, adapt to the substituted bone area, and facilitate bone integration by offering the right porosity for growth of bone cells (osteoblasts). This is done using a technique known as spacing, which entails using titanium particles mixed with another material (the spacer), which is subsequently sacrificed during thermal sintering treatment to afford the final properties in the piece.

Bone implants for humans have two chief mechanical requirements: firstly, they must be sufficiently resistant to support the load; and secondly, they must stimulate osteoblasts to regenerate a healthy, strong bone. This latter property is achieved by conferring the pores with the suitable size and connectivity to favor development of these cells.

The team of researchers from UPC, UPV and AMES presented their latest results from this project at the third edition of the Spanish National Powder Metallurgy Conference, in Valencia.

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