Medical applications for titanium a gentle constant

Nov 01, 2010 | 07:22 AM | Bill Beck

The use of titanium in a wide variety of medical applications—hip and knee replacements, dental implants, artificial hearts, trauma systems and the like—is a very consistent and structured element of the global titanium marketplace.

Unlike aerospace and tool markets for titanium, medical applications don't experience the peaks and valleys more common to the much larger marketplace segments. "It's a much more stable industry," said Frank Perryman, president and chief executive officer of Houston, Pa.-based Perryman Co. and 2009-10 president of the International Titanium Association. "The medical market isn't cyclic—we don't see drastic swings—but it's immensely smaller than, say, aerospace."

Privately owned Perryman, which has annual revenue of about $100 million, is a small player in an industry dominated by such public companies as Pittsburgh-based RTI International Metals Inc. and Allegheny Technologies Inc. Like most of its competitors, Perryman derives about 70 percent of its revenue from the aerospace industry.

But medical applications have looked to be a much more attractive segment of the titanium industry since the 2008 recession dramatically slowed sales to the aerospace industry. Market prices for titanium dropped last year to their lowest levels since 2004 after reporting healthy increases from 2006 to 2008.....

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