The Truth Behind Medical Fasteners



Discover the truth behind medical fasteners, and find out how fasteners are saving lives…

The word “fasteners” usually inspires images of D.I.Y, construction, industrial machinery, and the like. That said, the world of fasteners spans larger than you can imagine!

What may not have crossed your mind when thinking about these handy materials is that fasteners save lives! Whether it be surgical fasteners to screw together bones, fasteners for medical tools, or fasteners for keeping that pace-maker going in someone’s chest, the possibilities are truly inspiring.

At the Fastener Exhibition and Conference on 11th and 12th September, at the NEC Birmingham, we’ll be showcasing a number of fastener companies who could be instrumental your next medical innovation. Meet the faces behind medical fasteners, and help change lives.

A doctor performing surgery, using medical fasteners to help him out, saving lives in the process

Why Use a Fastener in Medical Equipment?


As you can see, fasteners for medical use have some fantastic benefits. But let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages of using fasteners within medical technology:

Advantages of Designing with Fasteners



  • Easy to source

  • Easy to design around

  • Easy to remove and replace

  • Relatively cheap

  • Reusable


Disadvantages of Designing with Fasteners



  • Size may not fit correctly

  • Can be heavy

  • Slow to install, especially as they often require a manual process

  • Expensive when purchased in high volumes

  • Must make sure there is room left for tool access


Medical Fastener Materials


When it comes to choosing the correct fastening materials for medical equipment, it’s important to think about a number of properties. Some of the key elements to take into consideration are:


  • Corrosion resistance

  • Strength

  • Electrical properties

  • Magnetic properties

  • Wear

  • Cost

  • Weight


With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the fastener materials, and their properties, to help you make the best choice.

Medical equipment, including scalpels, scissors, stethoscopes, syringes, and more, are used in hospitals every day

Steel


Steel is a pretty standard choice for medical fasteners. The most popular choice, although weaker and dearer than normal steel, is stainless steel. With a zinc coating, for areas where corrosion could occur, or where strength is especially required, stainless steel is the perfect choice for most applications.

Nylon


This is the typical non-metal material for medical fasteners. It’s key property is its inability to conduct electricity, as well as its non-magnetic properties, which are often undesirable in  medicine. However, despite these benefits, nylon is much weaker than metal solutions, which is why glass-filled nylon is sometimes a better choice. 

PTFE


PTFE is mostly used for graft material, as it is a thermoplastic polymer, which is strong, tough, and lubricating, amongst other great properties. This is a great fastening option when preventing bacteria is paramount, so anything that will remain in or on the body for a while will usually be made with this.

A big laboratory, with lots of glass tubes, and a woman performing an experiment, is something you'll often see in a hospital

PEEK


PEEK was developed in the 1970s, originally for the aerospace industry. It’s ability to withstand high temperatures made it ideal for aerospace engineering. Since then, it’s been adapted to make it ideal for spinal and dental implants, alongside bone fixation screws.

Some of its many benefits include:


  • Better compatibility, than metal, with diagnostic imaging.

  • Biocompatibility and bio-stability.

  • Strong and stiff, with great wear and performance.

  • Resistant to a number of chemicals, so it can be sterilised without worry.


Titanium


Titanium’s fantastic strength makes it a really ideal choice for joint or bone replacements. In the mouth, for example, it can last for up to 20 years! What’s more, titanium’s biocompatibility and denseness makes it twice as strong as aluminium.

To add to this, its non-magnetic properties makes it ideal for bodily implants, as it won’t be disturbed by MRI scans, for example. The only real issue with titanium is that galling occurs easily with it; the friction between surfaces.

Tantalum


Above our others, tantalum is a better choice for corrosion resistance, as well as its superior biocompatibility. To add to this, tantalum isn’t reactive, so won’t react poorly within the human body, making it great for spinal and orthopaedic implants.

MP35N


MP35N⁠—made from nickel, chromium, cobalt, and molybdenum⁠—is often used by the medical community due to its extreme tensile strength. It is also biocompatible, making it a great choice for orthodontics and prosthetics.

A silver stethoscope is something you'll always see hanging around a Doctor's neck

Fasten Your Braces...


As you can see, there are numerous considerations to take into account before deciding which medical fasteners to use. But that’s why we’re here to help!

Get one-on-one advice from experts in the field, and discover the next medical fastener trend. Bag your FREE ticket for the Fastener Exhibition and Conference, at the NEC Birmingham on 11th and 12th September, to get your next biomedicine lesson!

For FREE visitor tickets, do one of the following:


We’ll see you there!