Optimizing the Nano-Mechanical Properties of Biomedical Devices using the NanoTest System - Application Note by Micro Materials

Topics Covered

Micro Materials NanoTest System
NanoTest Enables Mechanical and Wear Testing on Actual Medical Devices
Customer Case Study - Combinatorial Testing, MIT, US
Customer Case Study - Implantable Devices: Micro-Moulding


Micro Materials Ltd are based in Wrexham, UK, which is located approximately one hour from the cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

Micro Materials provide innovative, versatile nanomechanical test instrumentation, and respond to developments in applications in response to customer and market requirements. The integrity, reliability and accuracy of our equipment is paramount, as is our relationship with our users.

Micro Materials NanoTest System

The MML NanoTest(TM) system is a fully flexible nano-mechanical property measurement system, offering a complete range of nanomechanical and nanotribological tests, including nanoindentation, nano-scratch and wear, nano-impact and fatigue, elevated temperature nanoindentation and indentation in fluids.

Amongst other parameters, the NanoTest(TM) is capable of measuring hardness, modulus, toughness, adhesion and many other properties of thin films and other surfaces or solids.

NanoTest Enables Mechanical and Wear Testing on Actual Medical Devices

Optimizing the mechanical properties of biomedical devices is a key step in determining their clinical performance. The mechanical integrity and wear resistance of a biomaterial are vital to its continuing success in vivo, particularly for long term implantable devices, such as total joint replacements, which need to function effectively over periods of 20 years or more.

With actual simulator tests of the performance of artificial joints taking several months to complete, it is not usually feasible to test each potential development, and laboratory tests are necessary to help optimize the biomaterial performance. This is where the NanoTest system has proved so effective in industry and academic research. The NanoTest flexibility enables a wide range of mechanical and wear tests to be carried out on actual medical devices, with their complex geometries. Typical tests include:-

  • Nanoindentation (for hardness and modulus)
  • Nano-scratch and nanowear testing (for abrasive/sliding wear resistance and adhesion strength of coatings)
  • Nano-impact testing (for fatigue wear and accelerated wear testing)

Biomedical applications in industry include measurement of the strain rate sensitivity of interconnect technology in pacemakers. With its industry-leading thermal stability, the NanoTest is able to measure the indentation response of materials over a wider range of strain rates than other nanoindentation instruments.

Customer Case study - Combinatorial Testing, MIT, US

Combinatorial testing is fast becoming a popular new route towards producing new materials with interesting and unexpected properties. Rather than trying to engineer perfect materials, in a combinatorial approach, many hundreds or more are made at small scale.

Scientists at MIT have used the NanoTest to accurately measure the properties of polymeric materials where each material had a different combination of 2 different monomers for evaluation for drug delivery and tissue engineering scaffold applications.

Within 24 hours of automated testing (in a single continuous run) they had data on every polymer in a 576-element array and were able to map the effects of the % of each monomer on the properties of the material. This automated analysis of a large library of acrylate-based materials demonstrated a range of mechanical properties affected by composition in unexpected ways.

The MIT team noted that the stability of the NanoTest was vital to the success of the testing of such a large number of samples in a single continuous run.

Customer Case Study - Implantable Devices: Micro-Moulding

Mapping processing-induced anisotropy of micro-injection mouldings for biomedical applications such as ear-implants is an important step in optimising their mechanical properties and ultimate performance in vivo. Researchers at the Wolfson Centre at Brunel University in the UK have been using their NanoTest for this and other biomedical applications, see http://www.brunel.ac.uk/387/WolfsonPDFs/MicroMoulding.pdf for more details.

About Micro Materials

Established in 1988, Micro Materials Ltd are manufacturers of the innovative NanoTest system, which offers unique nanomechanical test capability to materials researchers for the characterisation and optimisation of thin films, coatings and bulk materials. The current model, the NanoTest Vantage was launched on June 1st 2011.

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