Similar to the aluminium technology developed at the North Carolina State University, TiFoam has a structure resembling the spongiosa found inside the bone.

The titanium foam is made using a powder metallurgy-based moulding process that has already been used industrial production of ceramic filters for aluminium casting. Open-cell polyurethane (PU) foams are saturated with a solution consisting of a binding medium and a fine titanium powder. The powder cleaves to the cellular structures of the foams. The PU and binding agents are then vapourized. What remains is a semblance of the foam structures, which is ultimately sintered.

“The mechanical properties of titanium foams made this way closely approach those of the human bone,” said Dr.-Ing. Peter Quadbeck, who is coordinating the TiFoam project. “This applies foremost to the balance between extreme durability and minimal rigidity.”

While the research concentrated on demonstrating the viability of titanium foam for replacement of defective vertebral bodies, the foam is equally suitable for repairing other severely stressed bones, according to the scientists.