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    Great prospect for titanium in medical applications
    ----Interview with Zheng Yongli
    General Manager
    Baoji Xinnuo New Metal Materials Co., Ltd.
    Established in January, 2004, Baoji Xinnuo New Metal Materials Co., Ltd. is a high and new technology enterprise integrating research and development, production, and selling high-performance titanium mill products. It is located in the high-tech development zone of Baoji with a registered capital of RMB22.59 million and total asset of RMB153.11 million. It owns 124 staff currently and realized the total industrial output value of more than RMB95 million in 2017.

    Asian Metal: Hello, Mr. Zheng! Thank you for accepting the interview of Asian Metal. Please give us a brief introduction about your company's major business.

    Mr. Zheng: We mainly engage in military materials, medical materials and 3D printing materials industries and possess production lines of titanium and titanium alloy bar, wire and plate. In addition, our equipment is domestically advanced with some equipment meeting the international advanced level. In addition, our high-end titanium alloy bar and wire products used in the aerospace industry are widely applied to fasteners and structural components, etc; the market shares for high-end titanium alloy materials used in the medical industry occupy more than 30% in China and we have established 6 marketing offices in countries and regions such as Germany, Brazil, South Korea and India. What's more, out titanium and titanium alloy bar products for medical uses are awarded Famous-Brand Products in Shaanxi. Furthermore, we possess 12 authorized national patents including 3 patents for invention, 3 patents for utility models and 6 design patents.

    Asian Metal: You just emphasized the high-end titanium alloy materials for medical uses. What are the applications and advantages of titanium metal materials in the medical industry?

    Mr. Zheng: Titanium and titanium alloys are the most widely applied biomaterial metals for implant and are often used as bone support materials. Currently, the high-end biomedical titanium alloy bar, plate and wire products we produced are widely applied to surgical implant such as knee joint, hip joint, shoulder joint, skull and modified bone fixation clamp, and medical apparatus and instruments. Our products' main performance and technical index meet the standards of GB/T13810-2007 (the standard about titanium and titanium alloy for implant) and are above the standards of ISO/5832-3:1996E (the international standard for titanium mill products application).
    Titanium mill products enjoy obvious advantages compared with stainless steel in the medical metal material industry. As a material for orthopedic implants, the stainless steel material possesses favorable economy and combined mechanical properties with a simple processing technology, but the normal metabolism will be influenced as the metal ion is easy to concentrate in the tissue around the implantation material when the passivation layer is destroyed resulting from poor long-term stability and easy abrasion. On the contrary, titanium and titanium alloy materials are ideal bone fracture plate materials in the medical industry for the properties of excellent biocompatibility, low dilatation coefficient, high durability and no magnetism; in addition, its weight is about half of the stainless steel and the bone tissue and the titanium implantation material can merge with each other with the growth of bone tissue, making Ti-6Al-4V bone fracture plate extensively applied in the orthopedic surgery. Therefore, titanium and titanium alloys are ideal medical metallic materials on account of no poisonousness, light weight, high strength and excellent biocompatibility.

    Asian Metal: What are your advantages in medical titanium mill products industry?

    Mr. Zheng: We mainly have three advantages.
    Equipment and capacity: We have been equipped with more than 130 sets of domestically advanced production and quality control equipment of titanium and titanium alloy bar, wire and plate, some of which has reached the international advanced level; besides, we can process and produce 1,800t of various high-end titanium and titanium alloy materials and products per year. Since 2016, we have brought in the German ALD vacuum consumable electro-arc furnaces of world cutting edge technology and full-automatic high speed precision rolling production lines successively.
    Objective and capability of research and development: We take the world leading products as a reference, that's our research and development objective. After more than ten years of data accumulation and cooperation with international high-end equipment, the strength of extension of TC4 titanium bars developed and produced by our company reached 1250MPa with other indicators reaching the international advanced level. With respect to our research and development capability, in 2012, our company and the school of Materials Science and Engineering of Northwestern Polytechnical University co-founded Baoji Xinnuo New Metal Materials Enterprise Technology Center that has made great contributions to the research and development of new products, key technology breakthrough, manufacturing technique customization (improvement), equipment update, and quality and efficiency improvement for 6 years and was awarded Baoji Enterprise Technology Center and Shaanxi SME Innovation Center. We gained the certificate of GJB9000 in 2016 and has successfully researched and developed, trial-produced, and started many projects about military products. After more than ten years of development, we have possessed many key technologies including solution strengthening technology and hot and cold combination production technology, and process technology innovation, organization structure innovation and product quality and performance innovation. The application of high-precision and high-toughness bone screws dedicated for medical industry can reduce the rate of postoperative screw breakage which is caused by materials by 50%.
    Product quality and assurance capability: Our technical center has 50 sets of equipment for precision testing and quality control which originally valued RMB2,111,800. In addition, we carry out ultrasonic flaw detection, eddy current inspection and infrared ray calibration for 100% of our products. Furthermore, the electronic code is applied to every product to make sure of the traceability.

    Asian Metal: How about the development of medical titanium mill products in the medical field in recent ten years? How is your business of medical titanium mill products developing in recent ten years?

    Mr. Zheng: Nearly all of China's medical implantation materials were stainless steel before 2000, while China began applying titanium alloy gradually after 2000 and the application kept increasing by 15-30% every year; after 2015, the annual increase rate still kept at about 15%. With the development of aged tendency of population and the improvement of medical reform in China, we believe that titanium alloy has a bright future in the material domain.
    We have been holding fast to the medical titanium alloy industry since the establishment in 2004 and seeing the performance increase by 15-20% per year in recent years. With the accumulation of technology and high-end equipment, we are confident that our products will not only serve more domestic enterprises, but also step into the international medical market.

    Asian Metal: What do you think of the development prospect of medical titanium mill products?

    Mr. Zheng: According to incomplete statistics, China has become the second largest country in the world in terms of number of operations and products and market value, and the demand for high-quality medical apparatus and instruments is increasing steadily. In addition, the world's population is nearly 6.5 billion, according to incomplete statistics, there are nearly 400 million of the disabled including 60 million about limbs and trunk injury and disability; every year, there were about 1.5 million cases about joint replacement, which are far less than the people who need to replace joint. China's average compound growth rate for medical implantation instruments was 15-30% in the past ten years and is expected to increase at a rate of over 10% in the forthcoming ten years.

    Asian Metal: In what aspects do you prepare to further develop your business?

    Mr. Zheng: (1) Critical production process: We use the German ALD vacuum smelting equipment, vacuum heat treatment equipment and Italian precision rolling production lines which can improve the automation and intelligence level of key production processes and increase capacity.
    (2) Operation management: On the basis of current informatization management, the construction and application of information management system should be enlarged to further improve the level of intelligent management.
    (3) Product direction: On the one hand, we will carry on the concentration on high-end medical titanium and titanium alloy materials; on the other hand, we will develop and produce the surgical implantation joint for human body and magnetostriction head dedicated for mouth care to realize the transition from production materials to finished products; accelerate the development and production of materials and products used in the aerospace field with the aim of promoting the development toward the high quality and high-end fields.

    Asian Metal: Thank you again for accepting the interview and wish your company a prosperous future!

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