The days when a medical-component shop's most challenging and costly materials were titanium and medical-grade stainless steel are gone. Today's medical shops now use higher-cost alloys based on the precious metals group that includes, among others, platinum, iridium and rhodium.
- Platinum's price varies, but it was selling for about $1,100 per troy ounce in late November. It often is alloyed with other metals such as nickel, tungsten and iridium for hardness and machineability.
- Iridium's cost averages about $400.00 per troy ounce. Its main use is as a hardening agent for platinum medical devices.
- Rhodium's cost hovers around $4,900 per troy ounce. It is probably the toughest alloy to machine, and shops working with it will perform only basic operations typically requiring an EDM.
(Material prices according to Johnson Matthey Precious Metals Marketing as of November 2006)