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Application of MIM metal injection molding technology in medical products

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In the early 1980s, MIM metal injection molding technology was first applied in medical products and has become the fastest growing field in MIM market.

At present, most of medical MIM products are made of stainless steel, main 316L and 17-4PH; Other medical parts are titanium alloy, magnesium alloy, gold, silver, antimony and so on.

1.Orthodontic bracket

Metal injection molding technology was first used in medical treatment to make some orthodontic appliances. These precision products are very small, with great biocompatibility and corrosion resistance. The main material is 316L stainless steel. Orthodontic brackets are still main products of MIM industry now.

Germany's Forestat Company used MIM technology to produce a two-way inverted hook orthodontic bracket, which can increase mechanical retention force by 30%. Metal injection molding can be polished after one molding, which can greatly reduce friction of bracket to archwire. This product has been proved to have positive effects on orthodontic surgery by BjornLudwig.

2. Surgical tools

Surgical tools require high strength, low blood contamination, and the ability to achieve aggressive disinfection procedures. The design flexibility of MIM technology enables the application of most surgical tools. At the same time, it has the advantages of technology and can produce various metal products at low cost. Metal injection modling is gradually replacing traditional production techniques become the main manufacturing method.

FloMet Ltd. has developed a stainless steel claw using MIM technology, which is made of 17-4PH stainless steel and has a density of more than 7.5g/cm3. It can be used to grasp objects in human body during surgery and has function of scorpion. The design is quite complex and requires high production accuracy.

After molding and then sintering, it can reach a high tolerance level without a large number of subsequent process, avoids breaking profile and geometric structure. it is difficult to produce such a shape by casting or machining. Complex stainless steel jaws are costly and require a long production cycle, If made by MIM, cost can  save 60%.

3. Knee implant parts

MIM technology is progressing slowly in field of human implants, mainly because it takes a long period of time for product certification and acceptance.

MIM technology is currently used to produce parts that replace bones and joints. Its main material is Ti alloy.

In terms of biocompatibility, Chen L J used a MIM technique to prepare porous titanium with a porosity of 60%, and applied gelatin sustained-release microspheres on porous titanium surface by modified condensation polymerization crosslinking method. The result shows it is non-cytotoxic and can be used as a material for medical implants.

Canada MaettaSciences Inc. successfully used Ti-6Al-4V to produce knee implant parts for human. The implants are designed to withstand stress after entering the body and are biocompatible. Formed by MIM process, then hot isostatic press, sandblasting, polish and anodizing to obtain better surface properties to reduce friction with human body, and improve compatibility and service life.

4. Hearing aid sound tube

After MIM injection and sintering, complex hearing aid sound tube can be obtained. In order to make its surface smooth, it is necessary to do bead blasting after then.

The sound tube has density greater than 7.65 g/cm3, tensile strength up to 480 MPa, yield strength 150 MPa,  elongation 45%, and maximum surface hardness 100 HRB. MIM technology reduces costs by 20% compared to traditional production processes.

MIM metal injection molding technology can also be used to produce a wide range of products, including interventional stents, high-density alloy radiation shielding, microsurgical robots, micropump endoscope parts, and drug inhalers.

Keywords in the article: MIM metal injection molding
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