Investigation on the thickness distribution of highly customized titanium biomedical implants manufactured by superplastic forming
Mechanical performances of titanium biomedical implants manufactured by superplastic forming are strongly related to the process parameters: the thickness distribution along the formed sheet has a key role in the evaluation of post-forming characteristics of the prosthesis. In this work, a finite element model able to reliably predict the thickness distribution after the superplastic forming operation was developed and validated in a case study. The material model was built for the investigated titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V-ELI) upon results achieved through free inflation tests in different pressure regimes. Thus, a strain and strain rate dependent material behaviour was implemented in the numerical model. It was found that, especially for relatively low strain rates, the strain rate sensitivity index of the investigated titanium alloy significantly decreases during the deformation process. Results on the case study highlighted that the strain rate has a strong influence on the thickness profile, both on its minimum value and on the position in which such a minimum is found.