We’ve been writing at Design News for a few years on the exciting work in developing new polymers for coronary-opening stents. First there was the compound that releases drugs over a defined span of time. And then there was work to develop bioabsorbable plastic stents that would disappear into the body after completing their work. Now one of the developers is receiving the coveted Lemelson-MIT Prize for innovation – and a check for $500,000.
The winner is Joseph M. DeSimone, chancellor’s eminent professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and William R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor of chemical engineering at North Carolina State University. He worked with Richard Stack, president of SyneCor LLC, in developing a fully bioabsorbable, polymer-based stent to provide an alternative to metallic stents. The technology is being commercialized by Abbott Laboratories, and clinical trials are under way. The Abbott stent is made of polylactic acid—the workhorse for bioabosrbable implants—and coated with a drug called Everolimus.
One of DeSimone’s contributions is development of a safe method of removing potentially toxic additives used in plastic implants. Devices are immersed in a densified carbon dioxide composition to absorb toxic materials. The densified carbon dioxide containing the toxic materials is then removed from the polymeric material and the toxic materials are separated from the carbon dioxide composition by decreasing the density of the carbon dioxide.
In another breakthrough, DeSimone helped develop polymers with selectively modified crystallinity so that mechanical properties could be varied within a stent, a feature that directly relates to material degradation.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
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