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Coatings Could Lengthen Life of Joint Replacements

Coatings Could Lengthen Life of Joint Replacements

Each year, more than 500,000 total and partial joint replacement procedures are performed in the United States, and the number will be increasing due to an aging population. Therefore, products that reduce artificial joint wear and failure could have far-reaching human and economic consequences.

With the support of the federal government, Spire Corp. (Bedford, MA) will be trying to come up with two such products. The company has received a pair of grants totaling $200,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop processes that would lead to significantly increased life spans for hip and knee orthopedic prostheses. If the project's initial phase results are encouraging, Spire will be eligible for an additional $1.7 million from the NIH.

Under the terms of the grants, Spire will develop coatings to reduce wear and increase the life span of two important materials used in orthopedic prostheses: ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) and cobalt-chrome metal. UHMWPE will be coated at room temperature with a super-hard biocompatible ceramic coating that has excellent adhesion and low surface friction. The cobalt-chrome component will be treated with a metal matrix composite that will combine the best wear characteristics of ceramics and metals. Both coatings use Spire's proprietary ion beam deposition process.

For more information, contact Spire at 781/275-6000.


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