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topic 8147

Finishing Titanium Medical Implants

A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2019


Q. What is the cheapest way to finish a titanium surface of a medical implant?

Maurice Mommaerts
medical office - Brugge, Belgium


A. I assume you are referring to polishing of the wear surfaces. If so, electropolishing the titanium is probably the most cost effective as the usual 'hand' polishing although inexpensive, becomes very expensive if the operator is not properly trained.

Dan Weaver
- Toccoa, Georgia


A. Cheap depends on what kind of surface finish you are looking for. If my memory serves me correctly, medical implants or any implant for that matter requires a very smooth surface finish. The finer the better. Porosity can be a breeding ground for bacteria plus. Anyway, if that is your situation, I would look into mass finishing systems. You have your choice of barrel, vibratory, and high energy in that order of equipment cost. For efficiency and speed, I suggest a centrifugal barrel machine system. Volume of parts to be processed will determine size of machine and cost.

tony kenton
AF Kenton
Hatboro, Pennsylvania


A. Vibratory finish with porcelain media, and then anodise with "Coca-Cola". You can even offer a choice of colours .

Dave Brackenridge
aerospace plating - Germiston, South Africa


Q. Would you please give me more information on the process you referred to: "Vibratory finish with porcelain media, and then anodise with 'Coca-Cola'. You can even offer a choice of colours." Do you actually use Coca-Cola to anodise? How is the final color controlled?

Thank you,

David Dickey
a medical parts supplier - Lakeland Florida, USA

A. Hi David. Vibratory finishing is one process and anodizing is another. In vibratory finishing, the parts are put into a tub full of appropriately selected media, and a vibrator attached to the tub causes the media to rub against the parts and polish them.

Yes, decorative anodizing can be done in Coca-Cola or other mild acids, although proprietary anodizing solutions may work better. The coloration is not a dye or pigment; rather it is a diffraction effect. The titanium oxide film is almost transparent, so some light bounces off the outside of the anodized film, and some goes into the film and bounces off the part itself (or depending on how you think of it, the inside of the anodized film). The film is a fraction of a wavelength thick, and when the reflection from the outside of the film combines with the reflection from the inside, the interference cancels out some of the colors of white light, causing the part to look red, green, blue, or violet depending on the thickness of the anodized film.

But you are with a medical parts supplier, and general hobbyist-level decorative anodizing may not be what you are looking for; please take a look at ASTM F86 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] first.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


A. The cheapest way is to passivate the surface per ASTM F86 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] . This will meet the requirements for implants. Smooth, pretty and colored are another subject. We Chemical Polish for a good finish which also removes burrs and leaves the surfaced, passive, bright, smooth and ready for color anodizing, Coke will work some, but we use something different to achieve a rainbow of biocompatible colors, most useful for size coding.

Jon Quirt
- Fridley, Minnesota


Contact me to discuss environmentally safe technology and equipment to buy for electropolishing titanium, stainless, etc. medical implants. Polishing process takes few minutes, uses safe electrolytes, surface is mirror-surgically clean, free from any burrs and organic and inorganic residue.

Anna Berkovich
Russamer Lab
supporting advertiser 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 
russamer labs banner


A. Electropolishing and hand polishing are good for the exposed abutments of dental implants but, a smooth surface on an in-bone implant may not be the best choice. The controlled surface roughness of titanium implants during osseointegration to ensure the maximum surface area for bone-to-implant contact can be achieved by deformation (blasting) and/or removal (acid) processes. By combination of different processes and using titanium alloys having aluminum or vanadium constituents different patterns of roughness are possible in order to achieve higher indexes of bone to implant attachment. My company performs etching and certification of titanium implants to meet the cleanliness requirements of ASTM F86 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] and ASTM B600 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet].

Brian Adam - Los Angeles, California

June 23, 2009

Q. Sir,

We want to know how to electropolish & color Titanium Implants and what type of chemical should be used and how to do and other equipments required.

Complete information needed as we are not able to do so.

Please help us to improve our quality.

Dilbagh Singh
manufacturer - New Delhi

June 23, 2009

Hi, Dilbagh. If general hints will suffice, we have many threads on line here about electropolishing and color anodizing of titanium, and patience with our search engine will be rewarded. The color is not a dye or discoloration, but a diffraction layer phenomena (like carnival glass or the rainbow sheen of a drop of oil in a puddle) such that the color depends on the thickness of the (almost) transparent film; in turn, the thickness depends on the applied voltage.

You have already read on this page that people earn their living by offering titanium electropolishing and anodizing services based on their years of experience, and that other companies earn theirs by licensing the technology. So, unfortunately, you are unlikely to find "complete information" in an Internet forum. Licensing the technology is usually a good way forward if you want to do it in-house. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

Titanium anodising for medical implantation

February 19, 2019 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. We are bringing our titanium processing 'in-house' for implantable medical plates. I'd be grateful if anyone can offer any guidance or comments about our intended finishing processes. The aim is to increase the natural oxide layer.

Once the plate is shaped it is only handled with gloved hands.

It is then processed following the steps below:

Steam cleaned
Shot blasted with aluminum oxide beads
Steam cleaned
Immersed in Nitric acid for 24 hours
Rinsed with water
Anodised in dilute Ammonium Sulphate solution (Voltage and time unknown)
Rinsed with water

Additional question:
Can the Nitric acid be replaced with a detergent in an ultrasonic bath to clean the titanium?

The colour of the metal after anodising isn't a concern, currently it just turns a darker grey/brown.

Many thanks in advance for your help!

Jim Dimond
Manufacturer - Birmingham, UK
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^

February 27, 2019

A. Hi Jim,


In the US, fluoridric acid is more commonly called hydrofluoric acid.

I think the ultrasonic bath doesn't replace the chemical etch even when the titanium surface is shot blasted. The acid etching has the goal to remove oxide scale in order to obtain clean and uniform surface finishes. I don't know a detergent that can remove those particles. Normally, the etching solution for pickling titanium is with (10-30%) Nitric Acid with (1-3% in volume) Fluoridric acid. The ratio between Nitric Acid and Fluoridric acid can use 12:1. Also, the time of chemical attack with nitric acid is very long. The combination with nitric acid and fluoridric acid can remove aluminum particles or residues from shot blasting.

Any question?

Ghisana Fedrigo
Protus - Luzerna, SC. Brasil

May 9, 2019

Q. We are manufacturing ortho implant (Medical device). We use material titanium grade5. May we know about best chemical composition for titanium g5 anodizing? Best chemical for cleaning before anodizing?

Parth patel
surgitech - Rajkot,gujrat,india

May 2019

A. Hi Parth. Make sure you're complying with ASTM F86 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] and/or other applicable specs for these components first. Many people consider the formulation of the alkaline anodizing solution for titanium per AMS 2488 [affil. link to spec at Techstreet] to be their trade secret, so I'm not sure whether anyone will offer recipes.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

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