John Kang | Liquidmetal in the Medical Field

John Kang on Liquidmetal in Medical Technology

For John Kang, Liquidmetal holds great promise for the future in medical technology. John Kang shares: “Liquidmetal, which is the collective name and brand for a group of amorphous metal alloys fused together, has unique properties that make it ideal for various medical applications, foremost of which are medical devices.”

Developed by a research team at California Institute of Technology (CalTech), the group of metal alloys was originally called Vitreloy. When it began to be marketed by Liquidmetal Technologies, Vitreloy became commercially known as Liquidmetal. Image Source: keywordsuggest.org

What are the properties that make it unique?

Says John Kang: “Liquidmetal has a number of unique properties that make it a desirable material, the most notable of which are the following: high resistance to breakage under tension (high tensile strength), resistance to destruction caused by its reaction to the environment it is exposed to (corrosion resistance), remarkably high coefficient of restitution (COR) which gives it an almost elastic quality that allows for the gradual release of stored energy, and excellent anti-wearing properties.”

Applications in medical technology

Precision in manufacturing is one of the factors that make this group of amorphous metal alloys an ideal material for medical devices. The gradual drop in viscosity as the temperature increases (application of heat during the manufacturing process) and its malleability at low temperatures allow the metal alloys to behave like glass when heat is applied, and this in turn, enables the manufacturer to create devices with exact precision, especially small devices like medical implants.

From suturing equipment to minimally invasive equipment and, as mentioned above, implantable devices, John Kang shares that Liquidmetal will revolutionize the manufacturing of medical devices in the very near future.

Apart from medical equipment, dental devices will greatly benefit from these amorphous metal alloys as well. Says John Kang: “Liquidmetal also allows for the highest precision in manufacturing dental devices. Since these devices are relatively smaller than most medical devices, and they are almost always of odd shapes, the same unique properties will benefit dental devices as well.”

Strength, precision, and resistance to corrosion ensure a longer shelf life for these devices.

John Kang quotes Liquidmetal Technologies (from a medical clamp application study for a prototype design):

“A comparable steel solution would be expected to lose efficacy within 100 cycles, as the steel would yield and the clam force would decrease. For this prototype design, a goal of at least 200 cycles without a decrease in the clamp force was specified. Liquidmetal performed a minimum of 636 cycles.”

For the reader’s reference, Liquidmetal has been in use for commercial applications since 2003. Some of the products it was initially used for include cellular phones (smartphone casings), sports equipment like golf clubs, tennis racquets, and skis; USB and casings for luxury watches.

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