Nitinol's light weight and unique properties make it especially attractive for use in biomedical applications including heart valve tools, stents, staples, bone anchors, sophisticated septal defect devices, and a variety of implants. Its medical uses include devices for reconnecting intestines after surgery, as stitching, implantable stents, diagnostic guide wires, and reposition-able wire markers to locate breast tumors for less invasive lumpectomy procedures in treating breast cancer.5

Copper. Recently, the medical industry became interested in copper, which previously was off limits for most medical purposes, particularly any internal device. At the heart of this interest is the fact that properly shielded copper can be effectively used to carry signals to small implants and diagnostic tools. Leading manufacturers and processors of copper for medical devices typically produce the shielded metal wire or strips on their own dedicated equipment to maintain 100 percent quality control and avoid outside contamination.

Copper is ductile with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is relatively soft and malleable. It is easily worked, and the ease with which it can be drawn into wire in addition to its excellent electrical properties makes it useful for medical electrical devices when properly shielded. Due to its high conductivity, it is possible to embed smaller copper wires into devices to send or receive signals or carry electrical charges to accomplish tasks inside the body.

Copper ions are soluble in water, where they function at low concentration as bacteriostatic substances, fungicides, and wood preservatives. For this reason, copper can be used as an antigerm surface that can add to the antibacterial and antimicrobial features of buildings such as hospitals. Uses in hospital clothing, linens, and other products are being explored as a means of reducing infection rates.


Successful applications of the above metals result from manufacturers working closely with end users, starting with the desired design and materials specifications, through to completion of a device. The creators of medical devices typically engage early and maintain a dialogue with metals manufacturers from the design through production stages.

This article was written by John Schmidt, Retired Product Manager for Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc., North Haven, CT. For more information, visit here.

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