Titanium Nitride and Its Mechanical, Wear and Biocompatibility Properties

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Titanium nitride (TiN) is an extremely hard ceramic material with very high oxidation resistance. It is widely used as a coating on titanium alloys, steel, carbide and aluminium components to improve their surface properties.

TiN can be deposited by Physical Vapor Deposition (“PVD”) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (“CVD”). In the PVD process, titanium metal powder is reacted with nitrogen gas in a plasma, or electron beam evaporation, to produce titanium nitride as a film.

CVD processes are often applied to fabricate bulk ceramic products, such as medical devices or tools. A substrate can be prepared by forming a sinter paste or by compressing powdered metallic titanium to the desired density, then heating it in a vacuum. The final product is a sinterable, hard titanium metal that can be easily fabricated into desired shapes and sizes.

A wide range of mechanical and wear properties can be achieved with TiN, including a very low thermal expansion coefficient of 9.35 x 10-6 K-1. This makes it a good choice for devices that are exposed to large amounts of stress, heat and shock.

Biocompatibility: This material is highly inert to acids, bases, solvents and caustics, making it a very safe choice for medical and dental applications. Moreover, it meets FDA requirements for surgical tools and implants as well as food contact applications.

Wear Protection: During a 300-m sliding test under a 27 N load, the 8 mm thick TiN coating provided complete wear protection to the substrate when slid against a steel ball. In contrast, the uncoated steel wore out at an average rate of 4% per hour and produced oxygen-rich free particles that were trapped in the frictional layer.