Based in Kiel the company manufactures micro and thin-film components for the healthcare industry - especially as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) - customized, medical components (active/passive implants, actuator and sensor components, instruments and systems)Five years ago, COMPAMED-tradefair.com had already asked the expert about shape memory alloys and their applications. This time around, we wanted an update on the latest smart material developments.
Mr. Siekmeyer, what were the trends and developments in the smart materials sector over the past few years, especially as it pertains to nitinol?
Gerd Siekmeyer: Materials manufacturers have made great strides in improving alloy melts. Nitinol smart materials require tight tolerances, homogeneity, and purity of the atomic alloying elements. The more precise this ratio and the purer the components, the greater the reproducibility of the mechanical properties of a semi-finished part or component will be.
Novel melting processes also promise fewer impurities in the melts (so-called non-metallic inclusions).
There is also a wider range of semi-finished parts (more suppliers, more products), resulting in smaller and larger strips, wires, tubes, and sheet metals for product engineering.
New manufacturing technologies such as laser lathe (high-speed precision turning and simultaneous ablation with an ultrashort pulse laser), ultrashort pulse laser or erosion processes likewise allow the fabrication of more complex, and smaller parts.
All this resulted in new smart materials applications in an increasing number of implants and instruments. In the past, smart materials were primarily used in vascular stenting, but are now also implemented in many modern medical devices: examples include applications pertaining to minimally invasive stroke treatment, bioelectronic neurotechnology or electrophysiology, catheter-based cardiac assist devices, in-body sensor systems, ophthalmological, neurosurgical, or robotic precision equipment or wearables.