What is Ultrasonic Welding?
Ultrasonic welding is a process that uses mechanical vibrations above the audible range. The vibrations, produced by a welding sonotrode or horn, as it is generally known, are used to soften or melt materials at the areas where they join. The components to be joined are held together under pressure and subjected to vibrations, usually at a frequency of 20 or 40 kHz.
How is it different to heat welding?
Heat welding delivers a heat source directly to the materials that are being joined, which can result in a high level of heat dissipation into surrounding material and tissue. Ultrasonic welding applies both pressure and vibratory energy to the materials, which creates friction to occur at the joint line. Some frictional energy is converted into localised heat energy, and together with the applied pressure, a weld occurs. This process ensures that the heat required to achieve the weld is localised and does not cause collateral damage to surrounding tissue.
What type of materials can be welded?
Many different types of material can be welded. Our system is designed to weld polymer materials together, be they non absorbable like PEEK or bioabsorbable like polylactic acid (PLLA) derivatives.
What are the main advantages of using ultrasonic welding?
Minimally invasive and more focused application
Where bone healing is concerned, the fixation can be made smaller and less complicated as welding can be utilized to achieve strong initial fixation. This gives surgeons the ability to fix more complex fractures.
Improved surgical outcomes
The use of the SutureWeld for fixing sutures in place without the use of a surgical knot has the potential to improve surgical outcomes by preventing suture creep and knot slippage for suture anchor use across a number of open and arthroscopic techniques.
Potential saving in average surgical procedure length
Reduced exposure to X-ray radiations
Reduction in procedure time will reduce exposure to X-ray radiation
Opportunities for further applications
Further opportunities to use the platform ultrasonic technology to weld polymer directly to bone; operate using weldable spinal cages, re-liquify bone cement for revision arthroplasty and disinfect infected wounds
What is the value of Ultrasonic Welding in orthopaedic surgery?
- All cases requiring internal fixation could benefit from more versatile and simpler fixation by ultrasonic welding
- Polymers such as PEEK and PLLA (biodegradable) can replace the traditional materials used in fixating fractures
- Complex fractures that do not have optimal fixation solutions available would benefit most from this solution, such as:
- Ulna and fibula mid-shaft bone fractures
- Fractures near joints
- Injuries at insertions of tissue (such as tendons and ligaments) to bone
- Ultrasonic welding, using high frequency vibratory energy, can fixate these (biodegradable) polymer implants quickly within 0.2-0.7 seconds) and safely in both arthroscopic and open environments
- In addition, using a PLLA or PEEK button for fixing sutures in place, without the use of a surgical knot, improves surgical outcomes by preventing suture creep and knot slippage for suture anchor use across multiple open and arthroscopic techniques