Tag Archives: PEEK

Implants in PEEK Performance

Orthopedic and spinal technologies are evolving at a rapid pace. Today’s procedures are advancing patient care and improving recovery time substantially. Minimally invasive surgeries, outpatient procedures, and robotics are making joint replacement procedures easier for everyone. The options in implant technology and advances in materials have improved dramatically, and better outcomes are seen by many patients.

PEEK, an organic polymer thermoplastic polyetheretherketone PEEK Image Aug. 2016material, is one of the most successful materials. It is widely used in orthopedic implants. PEEK was originally developed by the U.S. aerospace industry 40 years ago for use in high-load, high-temperature applications. A highly pure grade of PEEK was developed in the late 1990s. This implantable material was embraced by the medical community for use in implantable devices.

The mechanical properties of PEEK are similar to bone, making it the ideal material for orthopedic/spinal implants. It is flexible and biocompatible, allowing the implant to promote bone regeneration by flexing and exercising the surrounding bone. Biocompatibility in load bearing implants is extremely valuable for the long-term success of spinal surgeries. PEEK implants improve biocompatibility with a surface consisting of tiny pits measuring 120 nanometers in diameter. Because these pits encourage new bone cell growth, a strong bond is created between the bone and the implant.

The Industry is currently exploring options of combining PEEK implants with coatings to further improve bone growth. Titanium coatings have shown increased cell adhesion, and research is beginning to see if an aluminum coating could be beneficial. At Hammill, we are well aware of the benefits of implants coated with Titanium. Our capabilities enable us to produce a wide variety of orthopedic PEEK implants that can be coated with titanium. In addition, we manufacture a two-piece insert that has PEEK on one side and titanium on the other. The characteristics of these two materials combine to improve strength and healing; pedicle and spinal screws constructed with titanium offer the strength required in load bearing applications while PEEK brings additional biocompatibility.

The enormous research and development of new implant materials and technologies are driving the market forward. Our goal, as a leading member of the medical device community, is to restore a patient’s quality of life. PEEK, titanium, and other materials that Hammill Medical works with on a daily basis help achieve that goal. It is our expertise in engineering, design, and manufacturing that make us a leader in the implant market. Let us help you bring your orthopedic or spinal implant component to market! Contact us today!

Miraculous Materials in Medical Technology

For a long time, medical professionals have been attempting to replace organic parts of our bodies that have failed with fabricated substitutes, to varying degrees of success.  The famous example of George Washington’s famous wooden teeth (that it turns out weren’t actually wood) comes to mind, though thankfully technology has progressed beyond replacing bone with stone.  In modern times, advanced materials are used; specifically engineered, these materials are notable applications of a wealth of medical and material science knowledge.

Some materials that are used regularly here at Hammill are titanium, cobalt chrome, and PEEK; titanium and cobalt chrome are metals, whereas PEEK is a plastic.  Since Washington’s day, the medical community has established extremely strict procedures and standards for determining a material’s use for implants.  The most important of these qualifications is of course biocompatibility.  These three materials all have the unique characteristic of being biologically inert, so that the body does not reject them after the surgery.

Titanium is perhaps the most familiar, as it has long been used in many fields for its incredibly high strength to weight ratio, and biocompatibility.  Cobalt chrome is actually an alloy of the metals Cobalt and Chromium, and is another low-friction, biocompatible metal alloy often used in joint replacement.  Perhaps the most interesting, PEEK (or polyether ether ketone, to give it it’s proper name) is an engineered thermoplastic, one of the few polymeric FDA approved plastics on the market, and accordingly expensive.  There are others, such as UHMWPE, but study and practice are revealing that PEEK is preferred due to its low-wear, and strength.  For any material science gurus, check out this handy comparison chart.

It’s amazing to step back and appreciate the complexity and precision with which modern medicine routinely operates.  Medical technology is exploding at an incredible rate, and At Hammill Medical, we’re proud to be part of that fast-paced process of making lives better.