By Andrew Nield

For the medical device industry ceramic injection molding (CIM) can be an alternative to metals or plastics, especially when conditions demand a more advanced type of material. CIM allows for intricate shapes to be manufactured in medium to high volume at very economic cost levels based on avoiding the need for secondary machining of features after firing. The unique material properties of advanced ceramics can offer the following benefits:

•Low friction/low wear
•High stiffness
•Reduced particle count and size
•Biologically inert composition
•Chemical resistance
•Low thermal expansion
•High thermal conductivity
•High operating temperature
•Electrically insulating

In addition to these material property benefits, CIM can achieve very small features and intricate shapes that are not achievable when producing ceramics from other methods. Medical applications where ceramic injection molding can be used include:

•Cardiac rhythm management devices
•Ceramic feedthroughs
•Neurological sensors and stimulators
•Cochlear implants
•Cardiovascular devices
•Endoscopic devices
•Electrosurgical tips
•Dental implants and abutments
•Fluid handling
•Small joint

Advanced ceramics are available in a variety of compositions for specific applications. Typical materials that are widely used in the medical industry include:

•Aluminum Oxide
•YTZP Zirconia
•Zirconia Toughened Alumina (ZTA)
•Alumina Toughened Zirconia (ATZ)

As populations live longer and medical design engineers push the material capability envelope, CIM can offer a more robust solution than more conventional materials and processes.

Andrew Nield is the director of sales & marketing for C5 Medical Werks. Visit C5 Medical Werks at