Information about Titanium
Titanium was discovered in Cornwall, England, by William Gregor in 1791 and named by Martin Heinrich Klaproth from the Titans of Greek mythology. The chemical element, Ti, is widely distributed in the Earth’s crust and occurs within a number of mineral deposits, principally rutile and ilmenite. Extracting the metal from the mineral deposit requires enormous amounts of energy, care and time, a process that makes titanium expensive when compared to other metals like steel.
The high strength, low weight, outstanding corrosion resistance possessed by titanium and titanium alloys have led to a wide and diversified range of successful applications which demand high levels of reliable performance in surgery and medicine as well as in aerospace, automotive, chemical plant, power generation, oil and gas extraction, sports, and other major industries.
Because it is biocompatible, titanium is used in a range of medical applications including medical devices and implants. Implants, such as joint replacements that can stay in place for up to 20 years. The titanium is often alloyed with about 6% aluminium (Al) and 4% vanadium (V).
Why use it in Medical Devices?
For centuries traditional hand held surgical instruments have been made from stainless steel. In the 1960’s, the aerospace industry embraced the benefits of titanium alloy and in the 1970’s a metallurgist advised the owner of Duckworth & Kent to consider titanium alloy (Ti 6Al-4V). Duckworth & Kent saw the advantages of working with this modern metal and moved away from manufacturing in steel. The new material proved to be very well suited to the requirements for surgical instrumentation, offering advantages such as no oxidation, non-magnetic , lightweight and yet extremely durable. The new metal required new techniques in manufacturing and Duckworth & Kent began to learn how to work with titanium alloy. Duckworth & Kent soon became a specialist in titanium manufacturing, pushing the metal to its limits to produce some of the finest, delicate and precise medical devices. Today Duckworth & Kent is regarded as one of the pioneers in titanium medical devices and a world specialist in manufacturing from titanium.
Titanium is naturally grey in colour, but our products come in a variety of colours. There are no dyes or paints in the colouring process, instead we change the properties of the surface of the titanium. The process is called anodising, where the titanium product is submerged in a electrolytic solution and electricity is applied. This creates a reaction with the titanium surface which changes the way light reflects back giving the illusion of colour. Blue is the most common colour, as it helps reduce the glare from microscope lights.
Benefits of Titanium to the Surgeon
• Titanium’s lightness is a positive aid to assisting instrument handling by the surgeon.
• Instruments are anodised to provide a non-reflecting surface, essential in microsurgical operations.
• Titanium instruments withstand repeat sterilisation without compromise to edge or surface quality, strength and are corrosion resistant.
• Titanium is non-magnetic and therefore does not cause adverse reactions with other steel instruments