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According to Penn State, its researchers have developed the first powder injection molding process for pure niobium, a biocompatible material similar to platinum and titanium, but cheaper. The researchers, who are based in the university's Center for Innovative Sintered Products, say the new process could open the door to injection-molded niobium parts ranging from rocket nozzles and human bone replacements to orthodontic braces.
According to Gaurav Aggarwal, doctoral candidate in engineering science and mechanics, the Penn State team is the first to explore processing pure niobium via injection molding. They have developed a method to calculate the optimal proportions of niobium powder to binder in feedstocks, as well as the appropriate temperature and duration for sintering.