5 Uses For Materials
Specialty metals have long played a vital role in the medical industry, particularly in medical device manufacturing. From basic diagnostic guide wires to sophisticated body implants, these metals keep growing their list of medical uses through the years.
Stainless SteelStainless Steel
Through the years, stainless steel has been the most widely used metal in the medical device industry. It is obviously the alloy of choice for most design engineers, who know all of its benefits, including corrosion resistance, variety of forms and finishes, and low cost.
Another highly versatile metal popularly used in making medical devices is titanium. As stainless steel, it resists corrosion and attaches to human bone with minimal adverse reactions. The process that allows natural bone and tissue to fully attach to a titanium implant is known as osseointegration. It is a staple in the medical manufacturing business as it is used to make a huge variety of products, from neurostimulation instruments to orthopedic rods, pins and plates, and of course, heart implants.
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in niobium and its alloys in the medical device manufacturing community. The metal is usually used in pacemakers are other similar devices because of its physiological inertness. Niobium treated with sodium hydroide is a suitable alternative for internal medical applications, as the process allows the metal to form a porous layer which aids osseointegration.
Tantalum has been a popular choice for more than 40 years in the manufacture of diagnostic marker bands, as a catheter plastic compounding additive, and for many other medical applications. It is also highly useful in shaped-wire applications, such as implants, because of its ductility and corrosion-resistant properties. It also has excellent dielectric properties and is easy to weld.
Nitinol is an alloy made of nickel and titanium (around 51% Ni) and can be superelastic when under applied stress. Shape memory refers to the metal’s ability to deform and recover its original shape when heated above its transformation temperature. With its ability to manage large strains, along with its physiological and chemical compatibility with the human body, nitinol has become a preferred material for medical device engineers and designers.
Finally, the medical industry seems to have shifted its views on copper and is even focusing research funding into the metal and its alloys. Copper was once off limits for most medical purposes, considering its thrombogenic (bleeding) risks, but now, it has grown a new fanbase in the device community. The reason for this change is the fact that the metal, as long as it is properly shielded, can be a good carrier of signals to diagnostic tools and small implants. Companies that make copper products for medical uses generally have their own equipment for metal wire/strip shielding, so as to ensure excellent quality and prevention of cross-contamination.
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