According to 3Dprint.com, the material could be the world’s hardest material for selective laser melting (SLM). Researchers at Z3Dlab, which specializes in metal additive manufacturing by SLM, discovered that there were a number of issues with titanium, particularly as used in the medical field. The metal, which is commonly used for dental and bone implants, could cause allergies due to its low hardness level and poor resistance to wear and oxidation. In an oxygen-depleted environment, the metal has the potential to release aluminum and vanadium ions into the bloodstream, causing allergic reactions.

To mitigate titanium’s tendency to erode, the team at Z3Dlab combined it with zirconia, a ceramic that is 50% harder than titanium. Capable of withstanding temperatures over 1000°C, the lightweight zirconia is commonly used in the medical and aerospace fields. Like titanium, it possesses the quality of biocompatibility, with a bone-like elasticity and capability of resisting body fluids.

This story is reprinted from material from 3DPrint.com and Z3Dlab with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.