Specialty Metals and Their Part in the Medical Revolution

Specialty metals have been a vital part of the medical industry, specifically in the development of medical devices. From basic diagnostic guide wires to sophisticated body implants, these metals keep growing their list of medical uses through the years.

Stainless Steel

Over the years, stainless steel has been the most popular metal used to make medical devices. Clearly, most design engineers look to it as their alloy of choice, thanks to its long list of advantages, such as variety of form and finishes, corrosion resistance, and affordability. Know more about metals at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal.


Another highly versatile metal popularly used in making medical devices is titanium. Like stainless steel, it is corrosion-resistant and causes less negative reactions when connected to human bone, compared to other metals. Natural bone and tissue attaches to a titanium in a process called 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, discover more!


Medical device manufacturers at specialtymetals.com have shown considerable and interest in niobium in the last few years. The metal is usually used in pacemakers are other similar devices because of its physiological inertness. Treating niobium with sodium hydroxide gives it a porous layer that helps in the osseointegration process, making the metal a good option for internal medical applications.


Tantalum has been used in the medical device industry for over four decades, particularly as a catheter plastic compounding additive and in the manufacture of diagnostic marker bands. It is also highly useful in shaped-wire applications, such as implants, because of its ductility and corrosion-resistant properties. It is also preferred for its good dielectric properties, as well as for being easy to weld.


Nitinol is a nickel-titanium shape memory alloy (around 51% Ni) that has superelastic properties when subjected to applied stress. Shape memory is what gives the metal the ability to restore its original state when heated above its transformation temperature. This extraordinary property of nitinol, on top of its being chemically and physiologically compatible with the human body, makes it a favorite among 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 used to be off limits for most medical uses because of its thrombogenic (bleeding) risks, but it has developed a new following in the device community. Behind this change is the fact that, when properly shielded, the metal can effectively carry signals to small implants and diagnostic tools. Companies behind the manufacture and processing of copper for medical devices usually make the shielded metal wire or strips with their own dedicated equipment for the purpose of maintaining superior quality and preventing cross contamination.

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