A research and development centre to capitalise on pioneering New Zealand titanium technology - including bendable bolts - has been opened in Tauranga.

The Applied Powder Metallurgy Centre will help companies develop and test revolutionary titanium products.

Titanium - the metal with the best strength-to-weight ratio - is used for aerospace, industrial, medical and automotive products.

Its uses include hip joints, metal plates for implants, surgical tools, cogs, nozzles, jet engine parts, sports equipment, filters and advanced coatings.

The bendable bolts are particularly effective when used with self-locking nuts.

The centre has been set up by the Titanium Industry Development Association with funding from Trade and Enterprise.

Tauranga firm Titanox Developments has come up with the process for turning titanium metal powder into solid objects.

The association's chairman, Ian Macrae, says the overall goal is to help industry adopt powder metallurgy technology.

"We're looking at developing a mini Silicon Valley in powder metallurgy right here in New Zealand and this new facility is essentially the seed for what will become a huge high-tech industry," he said.

Association chief executive Warwick Downing said New Zealand had a leading position with the technology.

The industry aimed to add significant value to the powdered raw material by developing products, rather than export it in bulk form.

The centre is part of the engineering facility based at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic's Windermere campus.