back to article Fraunhofer boffins develop 'Titanium foam' endoskeletal implants

Titanium - it's everywhere these days, long having spread beyond its initial uses in aerospace. Fruitbite laptops are cased in it, high-end tools and cutlery are made from it, there's even jewellery. Titanium foam developed by the Fraunhofer Institutes. Credit: IFAM The latest in foamalloy endoskeletons. Titanium alloy is …

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One step closer to Shadowrun

*marks Titanium Bone Lacing off the to-do list*

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What about ...

I'm waiting for them to do this with Adamantium.

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Boffin

replica?

"The "TiFoam" is made by soaking ordinary polyurethane foam in a solution containing fine titanium powder. Then everything except the titanium is brutally vapourised and the powder sintered together, forming a metallic replica of the original polyurethane."

Wouldn't it rather form a metallic 'negative' of the original polyurethane? That is, what used to be polyurethane is now air holes, and what used to be airholes (pre titanium solution soaking) is now titanium?

I for one welcome more technology that tries to make me live longer! :D Fraunhofer, telomere lengthening for christmas next year please!!!

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Coat

Yeah, yeah

You're just talking a load of airholes!

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JDB

better

doesn't make you live longer, but makes longer life better - that's tech I really like.

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Longer Telomeres - bah

Live fast, die young, leave an interesting crater. You can have your elf-like life.

I want orbital skydiving.

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Commander

"Live fast, die young, leave an interesting crater."

So, you mean like this guy? (He made quite an impression with his invention!)

http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=28494

Coat icon for obvious reasons...

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What a nice alignment of words

"...remorseless German boffins of the Fraunhofer Institutes, whose tolerance for unsatisfactory situations is famously nonexistent"

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Z80
Coat

a descriptive heading or caption

Ve have vays of making you (able to) walk (again).

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Nice

Nice to see some technology advances that don't have me reaching for a tinfoil hat. Congratulations to the metallo-osseo-bofiins.

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Black Helicopters

Tinfoil hat?

That's _so_ last year - hang around a month or two and this lot should be able to do you a titanofoam skull!

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It would be interesting

to see if bone would gradually permute the foam over time.

My thoughts are that if it is similar in strength to human bone, it may break, but if over time ordinary bone grows through, it may be able to heal with ordinary bone, without further surgical intervention. Now that would be revolutionary. It may completely change the lives of people who currently have to go through serious bone grafting after injury.

I am not in any way associated with a medical profession, and I am just idly speculating, so I'm sure someone will say that this can't happen. Still...

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@ Peter Gathercole

I had the same thought as you when I read the article. There is no (obvious) reason why bone will not colonise the skeleton. Much successful work is being done in growing new organs on scaffolding structures outside the body. Science fiction has taken one more step to becoming science fact.

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Anonymous Coward

This is the title

>so I'm sure someone will say that this can't happen.

Not at all - there are any number of projects of this type in the lab at the moment - it's just that even after getting it to work in the lab there's still ten years of clinical trials to go through.

The titanium foam isn't even particularly innovative (been done years ago) - far better is a material that supports the bone structural whilst new bone grows and then selectively dissolves as new bone replaces it so that in the end after a year or two the implant is completely gone (even if half the bone is missing to start with). Early systems along these lines are already up and running.

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M7S
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Who will be the first

to get the full skeletal transplant?

Snikt

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damn you

for beating me to the post! :¬)

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Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung

Do German signwriters get paid by the metre?

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Paris Hilton

But...

does it have to be so BRUTAL? Can't we have some kindness in metallurgy, a little touchy feely perhaps.

"Then everything except the titanium is brutally vapourised"

Won't someone think of the... err... polyurethane?

Paris is brutal, she's very....

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bacterial invasion

Materials which are easy for bone to bond to are generally also easy for bacteria to colonise, and implant infection is a problem anyway because of the limited blood supply to the region. So I won't be recommending this for my Mother for a couple of years yet, until there good evidence that it's not another bad idea.

Oh, and don't think that loading it up with antibiotics is going to solve the problem: those heart implants actually had worse outcomes than the antibiotic-free versions.

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Re:Bacterial invasion

The titanium surface is passivated (oxidized) to form a layer of TiO2, a chemically and biologically very stable compound which doesn't offer a good substrate for bacteria and has some antibiotic properties. The foam structure allows a very high degree of vascularization for the implant, supposedly allowing our immune system to take care of the infections by itself.

This sounds like a winner, but I totally subscribe the part about waiting a few years before recommending this.

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Joke

Does it sound any better?

Wow, that's a bit of an upgrade to MP3 technology!

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@Mycho

I really hope they get working on my wired reflexes now. Bitte Schon herr boffins?

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super

now can they arrange for three sliding blades that will fit in between my knuckles? *snicket

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Bronze badge

Mesh not a foam

That picture is clearly of a 3D mesh stucture and not a foam. Foams have closed cellular structures, and that one is open structured.

This is what a real metal foam looks like

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/Aluminium_foam.jpg

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no

it is called a reticulated foam

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Terminator

Cyberdyne Systems, Model 101.

"I'm a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton."

Judgement Day is coming.

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Rob
Coat

Next development

Sharp titanium claws that shoot out from your knuckles.

Mines, the yellow one with the black X on it... Shnickety Shnick

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Megaphone

slight corection

Adamantium, not Titanium.

from between the knuckles.

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Coat

Yeah, but..

... this is only measly titanium, not Adamantium!

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Welcome

"Fruitbite laptop"

ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!!

I was "encouraged" to use one of those fruit-bite computers back in the days of the black-and-white postage-stamp-sized screen imitation desktop thing that did its best to print one page an hour if it felt like it. Not much to love. Even Windows 3.1 was did better than that. And the screen was bigger.

Back to the story about titanium.... Clever stuff. The last time I remember something like this being used effectively was the implantation of coral. Coral was being used because it was natural, easy to sterilise, and was replaced with bone over time. It would be interesting to see how well the body treats the titanium over time.

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Boffin

this looks good

I've been working my way through implant surgeries since a bike accident 15 years ago. The original Stellite stuff was fine but caused wear on adjacent bones due to its extreme weight. The solid titanium is working a treat so far - I like the kevlar kneecap too, thanks guys - but if next time around they decide to go for foam, I will be happy to write you a review.

That's be RegHardware though, right?

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Grenade

Nice.....but it's titanium..

...And a good chunk of the very people this is targetted at can't use it because they're allergic to the stuff.

Titanium reactions are nasty and responsible for a sizeable percentage of implant failures every year, thanks to a penny-pinching approach from the NHS of not pretesting for sensitivity to the metal before shoving it in someone's body.

People who have to have inplants removed then have to undergo ever more excruciating surgery to have more bone removed so that alternatives can be used - or face being crippled for life.

Different metals please!

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Go

Titanium allergy rates

Titanium allergy rates are about 4%. Titanium is an inert metal, so there is a certain amount of disbelief that the 4% even exists. And the 4% rate is what a producer of Titanium allergy testing products states, so the general population rates are probably a lot lower.

The remaining 4% will have to get by with stainless steel.

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Happy

Orbital skydiving eh?

Someone's a fan of Iain M. Banks :)

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The Bionicle Man

"I'm a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton."

Nice. I have a Titanium implant after a broken leg. I will use that at the airport when it sets off the metal detectors...

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