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Best Metals for Medical Device Manufacturing

Which Metals Are Used In Medical Devices And Why

Medical device contract manufacturing is a booming business today. Medical equipment and devices are made from specific metals to ensure that the devices function properly for a long time without the risk of becoming corroded or affected by surroundings as this could have implications on the patients’ recovery.

Some of the metals are ideal for manufacturing devices that are used internally such as implants, and externally as well such as surgical tools.

In this article, we will look at three of these metals and why they are ideal for manufacturing medical devices.

  1. Titanium

Titanium is one of the most popular metals used in the manufacture of medical devices. Because this metal resists corrosion and tends to be biocompatible with the human bone, it is the preferred choice for many. Other than it’s used in medical devices used internally, it is also used for making equipment used externally such as surgical instruments, dental equipment, and orthopedic equipment.

There is medical grade titanium specifically used in making medical devices. Titanium 6AL4V ELI and titanium 6AL4V are alloys composed of 4% vanadium and 6% aluminum.  Titanium alloys harmoniously bond with our human bodies and are therefore ideal for use in medical device manufacturing. It is not a surprise that a good number of piercings are also made from titanium alloys.

Other types of titanium used in medical devices include Gr.23 and Gr.5, which are specialized grades used by specific medical equipment manufacturers.  Ti-6AL-4V ELI and Ti-6AL-4V are commonly used for making dental implants and dental equipment mainly because they have a high fracture resistance.

Benefits of medical titanium include:

  • It’s strong but lightweight and so ideal for making bulky medical devices
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Affordable
  • Non-toxic
  • Long-lasting. Medical devices from titanium can last for over 20 years without needing replacement
  • Non-ferromagnetic. This means it can be used in the manufacture of equipment that can be safely used with magnetic devices such as MRI and NMRI machines
  • It’s available in a variety of ranges
  • It’s elastic and flexible thus easy to manipulate for the creation of medical devices
  • It’s bacterial resistant and that ideal for surgical devices because there would be no fear of contamination if and when exposed to bacteria
  • It can be safely used together with devices that emit radiation

Due to these great properties, titanium is used in the manufacture of:

  • Retractors
  • Surgical Forceps
  • Surgical tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Suture instruments
  • Dental scalers
  • Dental drills
  • Dental elevators
  • Needle and microneedle holders
  • Laser electrodes
  • Lasik eye surgery devices
  • Vena cava clips
  • Laser electrodes
  1. Stainless steel

Most surgical devices are made using stainless steel. There is a variety of stainless steel alloys. This allows having different amounts of chromium and nickel which help in corrosion resistance. Truth is, all kinds of stainless steel can corrode under specific conditions so the term ‘stainless’ should not fool anyone.  The proportions of constituents used in manufacturing the final steel together with the hardening applied all affect rate of corrosion.

Because of the risk of corrosion albeit after several years, stainless steel is not ideal for making implants. It can, however, be used for other medical devices such as examination tables, dental chairs, clinical scissors, forceps to mention but a few. Of course, medical professionals should watch such instruments keenly for signs of corrosion over time. Other than creating alloys to help with corrosion resistance, other measures such as applying coats of paint can be taken to help with corrosion resistance.

  1. Tantalum

This metal has gained popularity in medical device manufacturing. It is used in the manufacture of simple devices such as marker bands for diagnosis and as a compounding additive in catheter plastic. It is very useful when used in applications that are wire shaped because it is highly ductile and corrosion resistant. These properties also make the metal ideal for implants. Tantalum has incredible dielectric properties and can be welded easily during the manufacturing process.

  1. Copper

For a long time, copper was not used in the manufacturing of medical devices because it has thrombogenic risks. Emerging research has however shown that it can be very useful in creating some medical equipment. More specifically, shielded copper can be instrumental in the making of medical devices. Shielded copper can be used for transmitting signals to diagnostic tools. Manufacturers who use copper, first shield the metal to prevent cross-contamination when it is put in the intended devices. Because copper is highly conductive, it can be easily embedded into devices that would otherwise require more expensive and larger materials to receive and send electrical impulses.

  1. Nitinol

Nitinol is an alloy made from a combination of nickel and titanium. This metal responds in a reversible manner when stress is applied due to its superelastic properties. Shape memory is a term used to refer to Nitinol’s ability to go through deformation when subjected to a certain temperature, and then regain it’s original form when exposed to temperatures above its transformation temperature.

Because of its ability to withstand large strains, nitinol is well sought after as an ideal material for the design and engineering of medical equipment. Some of the medical devices manufactured using this metal include tools such as biopsy devices, and small grasping tools. It is used ideally for making medical tools that can extend and expand to large areas with ease.

Because of its unique properties and the fact that it is lightweight, nitinol is ideal for the manufacture of biomedical applications such as staples, heart valve tools, intricate septal devices, bone anchors, heart valve equipment, as well as a variety of implants.

It is also used in the manufacture of repositionable markers and diagnostic wires used in the location of breast tumors. These devices are preferred because they are less invasive in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Some of these metals are definitely more popular than others but ultimately, they are all used in the manufacture of medical devices. As research continues, the medical device contract manufacturing industry is expected to realize exponential growth and explore the use of many more metals in the medical field.  At Bates Machine are you preferred choise in medical device manufacturing in Texas.


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