A recession in the aerospace industry in 1992-93 was the
spur that convinced titanium producers to actively pursue other
markets, including sports and medical applications. Industry
leaders quickly began research to position titanium in what
were termed "second-tier" markets.
Lightweight, with a high strength-to-weight ratio and able
to absorb shock and dampen blows, titanium quickly found usage
in bicycle manufacturing and in such equipment as baseball
bats, hockey sticks and golf club shafts. But it was titanium's
essential biocompatibility that ensured its acceptance in
Beginning in the 1990s, medical-grade titanium alloys began
replacing stainless steel and aluminum in surgical procedures
and implants, and titanium also made major strides in the
market for medical and surgical instruments.
A wide range of titanium alloys allowed the medical
community to specify different alloys for different
applications. Where formability was a crucial element of the
application, researchers and designers specified high-ductility
commercially pure titanium, while fully heat-treatable alloys
are used for strength and shape-memory alloys are increasingly
used in medical machining.
Orthopedic medical device manufacturers were the first to
discover the benefits of medical-grade titanium. The first
experiments on the utilization of titanium alloys in orthopedic
implants date back to the late 1950s. Designed to conform to
the complex shape of bones and joints, titanium proved to be a
perfect material for fashioning artificial hips and knees.
Titanium is rarely rejected by the human body and it is
compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed
tomographic (CT) imaging. In hip replacement surgery, for
example, titanium is used in the femoral stem, as well as the
titanium shell that lines the acetabular cup that is screwed
into place in the hip bone, and a removable insert in the hip
socket is protected by a titanium liner.