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Laser processes promise better artificial joints, arterial stents
Date:9/15/2009

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers are developing technologies that use lasers to create arterial stents and longer-lasting medical implants that could be manufactured 10 times faster and also less expensively than is now possible.

New technologies will be needed to meet the huge global market for artificial hips and knees, said Yung Shin, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of Purdue's Center for Laser-Based Manufacturing.

The worldwide population of people younger than 40 who receive hip implants is expected to be 40 million annually by 2010 and double to 80 million by 2030. In addition to speeding production to meet the anticipated demand, Shin said another goal is to create implants that last longer than today's.

"We have 200,000 total hip replacements in the United States," he said. "They last about 10 years on average. That means if you receive an implant at 40, you may need to have it replaced three or four times in your lifetime."

One of the researchers' techniques works by depositing layers of a powdered mixture of metal and ceramic materials, melting the powder with a laser and then immediately solidifying each layer to form parts. Because the technique enables parts to be formed one layer at a time, it is ideal for coating titanium implants with ceramic materials that mimic the characteristics of natural bone, Shin said.

Findings will be detailed in a presentation this week during the International Medical Device Expo's Advanced Laser Applications Conference in San Jose, Calif.

"Titanium and other metals do not match either the stiffness or the nature of bones, so you have to coat it with something that does," Shin said. "However, if you deposit ceramic on metal, you don't want there to be an abrupt change of materials because that causes differences in thermal expansion and chemical composition, which results in cracks. One way to correct this is to change the composition gradual
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Contact: Emil Venere
venere@purdue.edu
765-494-4709
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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