As published in PIM International Vol 6 No 2 June 2012
In the Autumn of 2011 TiJet Medizin-technik GmbH, based in Kiel, Germany, was acquired by Matthias Scharvogel and the company was subsequently renamed Element22 GmbH. Scharvogel told PIM International, “This new name already reveals where our emphasis lies – developing and manufacturing parts out of titanium, the 22nd element in the periodic table, and its alloys. Our long-term experience and eager engineering and management team form a sound basis to enable an expansion into a wider range of end-user industries.”
Reflecting this change, the company has expanded its activities from purely medical applications and it is now collaborating with additional partners to develop and manufacture products for the aerospace and space industries, as well as in the consumer goods industry.
The primary production process used at Element22 is Metal Injection Moulding (MIM). Scharvogel stated, “What makes Element22’s technology unique is our own customised titanium feedstock. This is manufactured in-house according to a special formula and all our production processes are dedicated and optimised to the use of this feedstock. The goal of our technology is to produce the highest quality components at cost competitive prices.”
The company’s technology is based on many years of development in co-operation with key research institutions. Based on work at Fraunhofer IFAM, Bremen, Germany, and HZG Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Germany, the company was able to produce complex components from a titanium alloy which, for the first time, retained the excellent mechanical characteristics of the basic material used. Motivated by these results a complete production line for medical MIM components made from titanium was setup in Kiel, in the second half-year of 2004 and from 2005 the production of Ti-MIM parts commenced.
In April 2011 the ASTM F 2885 “Standard Specification for Metal Injection Molded Titanium-6Aluminum-4Vanadium Components for Surgical Implant Applications” was published. This standard sets the benchmark for the quality of implantable titanium components.
“Element22 is one of only a few companies worldwide that is able to meet the stringent requirements of this standard. As an active member of the ASTM committee, we have been strongly involved in creating this standard. The publication of a comparable standard for the use of metal injection moulded unalloyed titanium components for surgical applications is planned for end of 2012,” commented Scharvogel.
The mechanical properties of the MIM parts produced by Element22 are similar to wrought titanium and the properties can be adjusted depending on the application. “Metal Injection Moulding has several key advantages compared to traditional production technologies that make this process of great interest to new markets, opening up a world of innovation possibilities,” stated Scharvogel. “It is suited to the precision net shape manufacturing of complex parts in serial production quantities. In doing so, titanium’s main characteristics, such as high strength, high corrosion resistance and low density, are commercially usable to enable lightweight design and thereby offer considerable energy savings. The MIM of titanium can, therefore, be considered a green technology that will help to save resources.”
In addition, Element22 offers titanium components made by Super Plastic Forming (SPF). SPF is based on the use of a hot shielding gas to form a sheet metal into a cavity. Element22 is using this technology for the production of Titanium-6Aluminum-4Vanadium shells for pacemakers and neurostimulators.
In the future the company plans to apply its technologies to other metals and their alloys and implement new powder metallurgy based processes in order to further strengthen the use of these new green technologies.
Element22 GmbH has a certified quality management system according to the international standard EN ISO 13485.