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Mechanical, Chemical and Environmental Technologies


The market for superalloys and shape memory alloys for medical applications is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 10.6% through 2020.

 

Superalloys are a group of high-performance alloys that are resistant to creep, corrosion and high temperatures (above 540ºC). There are three main classes of super alloys: nickel-, nickel/iron-, and cobalt-based. Other elements forming superalloys include chromium, tungsten, molybdenum, tantalum, niobium, titanium, and aluminum. Their unique properties are related to the presence of an austenitic face-centered cubic structure reinforced by a secondary phase (called gamma prime).

 

Currently, the main application of superalloys is for the fabrication of aircraft engines and power generation turbines. Superalloys are also used in the healthcare sector, where they are valued for their anticorrosion properties, mechanical strength, low weight, and good biocompatibility and inertness. As displayed in the table below, common uses are for the fabrication of medical devices and implants (e.g. stents, catheters, and prostheses), surgical instruments, drugs and drug delivery devices, biosensors and microfluidic devices, diagnostic equipment, and dental restorations.

 

Superalloys for healthcare applications are primarily based on nickel-chromium, nickel-aluminum, and cobalt-chromium. Nickel-titanium (NiTi, or Nitinol) is also often included in the category of superalloys. Nitinol is a unique material that exhibits an austenitic face-centered cubic structure at high temperatures and a martensitic crystal structure at low temperatures. It is characterized by shape memory andsuperelasticity, which allow this material to return to its original shape upon heating. These properties have made NiTi popular for orthodontic wires and stents. Recently, a nickel-titanium-copper shape-memory alloy has been developed that is capable of being bent over 10 million times without exhibiting wear.

 

The market for superalloys and shape memory alloys for medical applications is estimated to reach global revenues of $1.9 billion in 2015 and forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% through 2020. 

 

 

The table below provides a representative list of manufacturers of superalloy and shape memory alloy products for the healthcare industry.

 

 

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Keywords: superalloy, super alloy, shape memory alloys, advanced alloys, high performance alloys, medical, healthcare, market 

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