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How Nitinol Helps Devices Take Shape

Although nitinol has received a lot of attention for its use in stents, engineers aren’t able to take full advantage of the material because they simply don’t understand it. Ming Wu, PhD, vice president of engineering for advanced materials technology at Edwards Lifesciences, is hoping to educate device designers and engineers on what the material can do and how it can be used in today’s world.

Although nitinol has received a lot of attention for its use in stents, engineers aren’t able to take full advantage of the material because they simply don’t understand it. Ming Wu, PhD, vice president of engineering for advanced materials technology at Edwards Lifesciences, is hoping to educate device designers and engineers on what the material can do and how it can be used in today’s world. Wu is speaking during Session 203, Materials for Implants and Other Demanding Biomedical Applications, on Tuesday, February 8, during MD&M West.

Ming Wu

“The biggest problem that I see right now is [that] a new material doesn’t get used because the designer engineer doesn’t understand how to design with the material,” says Wu. “Very often the material technology comes from a material scientist or the material community, and it takes a while for the design engineer to understand the material property and how to design with it.” Wu plans to help attendees better understand nitinol by discussing its capabilities, benefits, and drawbacks. He will also discuss the clinical problems that users are experiencing, and how to consider those elements when designing a device that uses nitinol.

Nitinol has the unique property of superelasticity. It allows the material to go through a large deformation, and then recover to its original shape. For example, when using nitinol to design a stent, a balloon isn’t needed, as compared with developing a stent that is made of traditional cobalt chromium or stainless steel. “[Nitinol] allows for a much more simplified device design and delivery system,” says Wu. “There’s more of an understanding about this [material] and its in vivo mechanical balance between the device and the tissue that causes less traumatic reaction if you use it properly.” In addition to discussing the material’s properties, Wu will talk about other creative ways to use the material.

Wu’s target audience is design and device engineers, and professionals who work in management, technology development, or the legal aspects of device design. He hopes that attendees will take away a better understanding of nitinol and its properties as well as the key points to consider when designing a new device. His main goal is to give the audience a deeper knowledge of the boundaries of nitinol to help spur future innovation.

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