The Role of Specialty Metals in the Medical Industry

12 Jan

Specialty metals have a long history with the medical industry, particularly in medical device development. From the most basic diagnostic guide wires to the most advanced body implants, these metals are unstoppable in proving themselves medically useful.

Stainless Steel

Through the years, stainless steel has been the most widely used metal in the medical device industry. Obviously, it is the top alloy of choice of most design engineers, thanks to its low cost, wide variety of forms and finishes, and corrosion-resistant properties.


Another highly versatile metal popularly used in making medical devices is titanium. Just like stainless steel, it does not corrode and it connects perfectly with human bone, causing less negative reactions than other metals. Natural bone and tissue attaches to a titanium in a process called osseointegration. The metal is one of the staples of the medical device industry, and is commonly used to make a wide range of products, from heart implants to orthopedic rods, pins and plates. Get Specialty Metals here!


In recent years, there has been a growing interest in niobium and its alloys in the medical device manufacturing community. Because of the metal's inertness, it is usually used to make pacemakers and others related devices. Treating niobium with sodium hydroxide gives it a porous layer that helps in the osseointegration process, making the metal a good option for internal medical applications, read more now!


Tantalum has been used in the medical device industry for over four decades, particularly as a catheter plastic compounding additive and in the manufacture of diagnostic marker bands. It is also highly useful in shaped-wire applications, such as implants, because of its ductility and corrosion-resistant properties. It also has excellent dielectric properties and is easy to weld. Get more facts about metals at


Nitinol is a nickel-titanium shape memory alloy (around 51% Ni) that has superelastic properties when subjected to applied stress. Shape memory refers to the metal's ability to deform and recover its original shape when heated above its transformation temperature. This extraordinary property of nitinol, on top of its being chemically and physiologically compatible with the human body, makes it a favorite among medical device engineers and designers.


Finally, the medical industry seems to have shifted its views on copper and is even focusing research funding into the metal and its alloys. Copper was once off limits for most medical purposes, considering its thrombogenic (bleeding) risks, but now, it has grown a new fanbase in the device community. Behind this change is the fact that, when properly shielded, the metal can effectively carry signals to small implants and diagnostic tools. Companies that manufacture and process copper for medical devices generally have their own dedicated equipment for shielding of the metal wire or strips, if only to guarantee superior quality and eliminate all chances of cross-contamination.

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