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Compamed/Medica 2012, November 14–16 in Düsseldorf

CeramTec Advanced Ceramics put an exclamation point on Medical Engineering

From lithotripters and artificial hip joints to anesthetic equipment – advanced ceramics are not only used in all types of medical devices, but also in the human body. CeramTec has a large range of advanced ceramic materials with a wide variety of properties to offer the right solution for various applications in medical engineering.

CeramTec is showcasing its impressive portfolio of ceramic materials at Compamed – the leading international marketplace for the medical supply industry and product development. Visitors to Stand 08b-K31 will see application examples for the special mechanical, electrical, thermal and biochemical properties found in medical engineering. Practical examples are important, as every technical solution is only as good as the results it delivers by taking advantage of the specific properties of technical ceramics using the respective material in real-life applications in medical engineering.


For high mechanical strength: Alumina

Alumina in its various levels of purity is the most important oxide ceramic material. CeramTec has a wide range of low-density and lightweight materials with a variety of property combinations at its disposal. Excellent electrical insulation, high mechanical strength, high corrosion and wear resistance paired with good sliding properties make alumina the first choice anywhere liquids and other media are moved and dosed. Whether as gas-tight seal and regulator discs in anesthetic equipment and titrators, as membranes in respirators or as sensory membranes, such components provide extremely reliable service. Ceramic substrates are used in a wide variety of medical devices as circuit carriers.


For the highest tribological demands: Zirconia

Besides their excellent tribological properties, zirconium oxides (zirconias) are also characterized by their extraordinary fracture toughness, high wear and corrosion resistance, low thermal conductivity and a coefficient of expansion similar to that of steel. This has helped zirconium oxides gain importance as structural materials for components subject to high stress, making it possible to develop new areas of use in mechanical and equipment engineering with solutions that can replace steel components. Ceramic elements play an important role, for example, as components in mills, pumps and agitators where they significantly reduce abrasion in grinding, mixing and dispersing during the production of powders and ointments. The resulting abrasion is bioinert and does not cause allergic reactions due to metal sensitivity. Yttria-stabilized zirconia is an interesting material for dentistry. Its very fine structure, high strength and biocompatibility make high-grade zirconia ideally suited for use in dentistry. This specially developed material is used in the production of blanks – a basic product for dental laboratories used to make ceramic crowns and bridges. It offers an alternative to conventional materials such as titanium in abutments and implants.


For high fracture toughness: BIOLOX®

If fracture toughness, high hardness and strength are key, BIOLOX® is the material of choice. Every 30 seconds somewhere in the world a hip prosthesis is implanted with BIOLOX® components – a special material development from CeramTec. People are not only living longer but are also much more active in their later years, so a hip joint replacement must have a very long service life. BIOLOX®delta ceramics offer the optimal solution in this area. CeramTec’s unique raw material processing and a manufacturing process that has been optimized over decades ensure maximum uniformity of the material. This results in components that are extremely resistant to wear and fit perfectly together in total hip replacement. The outstanding properties and success of ceramic implants in hip joints as well as the significant progress in material development provide the starting point for the development of new applications. BIOLOX®delta ceramic components are also available for knee replacement.


For converting mechanical energy: Piezo-ceramics

Thanks to their unique, active properties, piezo-ceramics have already made their mark in a number of application areas. The piezo-ceramic manufacturing process is specifically targeted to give these materials unusual properties in their combinations. These enable piezo-ceramic components to transform mechanical energy such as pressure, expansion or acceleration into electrical energy or to convert electrical voltage into mechanical movement or vibration. Humans can only hear sounds up to 20 kilohertz, while bats use higher frequency ultrasound. Modern piezo-ceramics help humans tap the potential of ultrasound, too: Alternating voltages cause them to oscillate, which in turn sends off high-frequency acoustic signals. Medicine is an important field of application for ultrasound technology. Focused on kidney stones or gall stones, ultrasonic waves can painlessly break up conglomerates into smaller fragments, which the body then passes. Ultrasound is effective both in removing plaque and in atomized inhalers. Scalpels and surgical knives also benefit from the outstanding properties of piezo-ceramics: A small scalpel blade vibrates, allowing the surgeon to perform minutely small, very precise cuts using substantially less cutting force and without damaging surrounding tissue. The effect is also used in cleaning: Ultrasonic cleaning works by creating cavitation in a cleaning liquid by means of high-power ultrasonic waves. This intensively cleans the contaminated surface of the substance, even with complicated shapes.


For maximum thermal conductivity: Aluminum nitride

Aluminum nitrides feature a unique combination of properties: Electrical insulation, high thermal conductivity and strength make them attractive for use in high-performance electronic components. They are ideal for use in laser technology or in dialysis machines and blood analyzers.