Biomedical textiles are gaining significant momentum for use in medical devices to facilitate less invasive surgical procedures. Textiles made from synthetic and metallic biomaterials offer a surprising combination of versatility and strength. They can be strong enough to hold joints and bones together, yet delicate enough to be used in sensitive tissues.
The advancement of textiles has historically been somewhat limited by an outdated business model and reluctance by textile developers to move outside their comfort zone when it comes to addressing complex textile challenges. They have instead favored established, high-volume textile production. Today, that is changing. Textile developers are working with their medical device OEM customers to redefine a space ripe for innovation. The right combination of creativity, infrastructure, capabilities, and experience is leading to better products that expand the boundaries of what's possible.
The nearly limitless combination of patterns and advanced geometries that can be created by today's engineers through a blend of material selection and software programming allows characteristics such as porosity, flexibility, thickness, and stability to be completely controlled and customized. Implantable fabrics are also inherently chemically inert, corrosion-proof, and offer favorable wear resistance. This has created exciting opportunities to use textiles unlike ever before. As a result, textile applications now span across many applications, but three where they have the potential to especially add innovation in the year ahead and beyond are orthopedics, cardiovascular, and robotic surgery.
As textile structures have become more innovative, with complex and fully customizable geometries and implantable fabrics that are no longer limited to traditional applications and can actually support and promote the healing and even the regeneration of damaged cardiovascular tissue. Textiles formed via knitting, braiding, or weaving of medical-grade fibers are now used to create biocompatible heart valve fabric, aortic arch reinforcement, stent graft covering, carotid artery repair fabric, tissue grafts, and more.
Today's textiles have the flexibility and shape transformation capabilities to be engineered for insertion through a small catheter and to expand within the vessels, allowing for minimally invasive delivery methods without sacrificing any mechanical integrity. This is particularly beneficial for patients with small vessels, and for repairs in the three branches of the aortic arch, which has long been challenging. Even in thoracic surgery, where pressures are significantly higher than in abdominal areas, textiles have proven very successful due to the development of high-performance medical grade yarns and dense fabric constructions. The goal continues to be to make smaller, lower profile devices to facilitate less invasive procedures.
Warp knitting is especially ideal for creating textile...