Biomedical Materials

Engineering better health

The biomedical materials industry develops and manufactures materials used in medical devices and implants. Biomedical materials must be compatible with the human or other animal body, they are being used with. They must be non-toxic, non-rejection, durable and able to withstand the stresses of the body environment.

Biomedical materials are used in a wide range of medical applications, including:

  • Implants: Creating artificial joints, prosthetics, pacemakers, heart valves, dental implants, and other devices that are implanted into the body
  • Medical devices: Used to diagnose, treat, or monitor medical conditions. Including catheters, stents, imaging devices, and surgical instruments
  • Drug delivery systems: Developing drug delivery systems that release drugs into the body in a controlled manner including insulin pumps, slow release patches, inhalers, and drug coatings
  • Tissue engineering: Creating scaffolds that support the growth of new tissue or as grafts to replace damaged tissues

Advancements in industrial materials science and engineering, opening the potential for new biomedical applications, have led to development of new and improved biocompatible materials. Improved understanding of anatomy, physiology and disease pathways, the increased prevalence of chronic diseases and the drive for less invasive techniques, have all contributed to the growth and increased investment in this sector. As complexity of treatments grow, demand for cost-effective, lower risk options for both the human and veterinary medical industries increases. 

Biomedical materials play a significant role in modern medicine and the biomedical industry is highly innovative. It involves a wide range of disciplines, including medicine, materials science, chemistry, engineering, and biology, and is constantly evolving as new materials and technologies are developed and commercialised.

PI-KEM is well-positioned to meet the needs of this growing market, our wide product portfolio, the technical expertise of our Advanced Materials Business Development Team, and our commitment to customer service make us a valued partner for companies and researchers in this sector.

  • Industry Insights

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    Biomedical materials include:

    • Metals: Precious metals, titanium, stainless steel, and cobalt-chromium alloys are all commonly used in implants such as artificial joints, pacemakers, and dental implants as they are biostable and wear-resistant
    • Ceramics: Alumina and zirconia are used in implants such as hip sockets and dental crowns as they are durable and long-lasting
    • Polymers: Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), silicone, and polyurethane are used in medical devices such as catheters, stents, and artificial heart valves as they are lightweight, flexible, and cost-effective
    • Composites: Carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) are used in implants such as spinal rods and plates as they can be engineered to have the properties required by the specific application
  • Innovation Trends

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    Key trends in the UK and European biomedical industry include:

    • Use of 3D printing: Allowing the manufacture of bespoke devices that cannot be easily manufactured using traditional methods
    • Development of new biomaterials: Innovative materials, used as grafts or scaffolding, with improved biocompatibility, infection resistance, biodegradability, and longevity are being continuously engineered and tested
    • Pioneering new biomedical devices: Improved accuracy, reliability and remote monitoring all has led to devices becoming more complex and equally becoming more essential for modern health management
    • Novel drug delivery methods: Delivering drugs to specific sites in the body in a more controlled and effective manner
    • Design of new sensor based surgical instruments: Improving safety and efficacy of surgical procedures
  • Academic/ Industrial Partnerships

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    • Researchers from STAM at Trinity College Dublin, with the support of DePuySynthes are developing techniques to improve the acceptance of artificial joints by 3D printing porous sections on implants.  Click here to read article
    • The FORESEE project being run by researchers at BERG, based at UPF in Spain, are further developing an intravascular cardiac sensor which can be used to remotely monitor the condition of heart failure patients. Click here to read article
    • The Smart Nano-bio-devices Group at IBEC in Spain are running projects investigating how enzymes and nanoparticles can be combined to improve drug delivery.  The nanobots can move, monitor their own activity, and sense their environment to deliver drugs accurately for example in the treatment of bladder cancers. Click here to read article
    • Researchers at Brunel University have developed flexible manipulators using optoelectronic sensors that reduce soft tissue damage in surgical patients. Click here to read article
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