Medical and Biomedical Devices
Both rods in a Harrington rod cervical stent failed after a short time in service. Metallurgical analysis revealed a significant number of notches as well as enlarged grain size in one of the two rods, rough shallow-cracked surfaces along the bend profiles, possible signs of corrosion, and fractures (on both rods) near indentations imparted by retaining clamps. The observations suggest that surface roughness and bending defects initiated cracking that led to the fatigue failure of the compromised rod, followed some time later by the overload fracture of the second rod.
Superelastic nitinol wires that fractured under various conditions were examined under a scanning electron microscope in order to characterize the fracture surfaces, produce reference data, and compare the findings with prior published work. The study revealed that nitinol fracture modes and morphologies are generally consistent with those of ductile metals, such as austenitic stainless steel, with one exception: Nitinol exhibits a unique damage mechanism under high bending strain, where damage occurs at the compression side of tight bends or kinks while the tensile side is unaffected. The damage begins as slip line formation due to plastic deformation, which progresses to cracking at high strain levels. The cracks appear to initiate from slip lines and extend in shear (mode II) manner.