Nitinol tubing is often used in the medical device industry. Nitinol, a nickel-titanium alloy, is prized for its shape memory, superelasticity and biocompatibility. Named for the alloys composing it (Ni-nickel and Ti-titanium), along with the laboratory where it was discovered (the Naval Ordnance Laboratory), nitinol is also widely used in the aerospace, energy and industrial sectors.
Part of what makes nitinol invaluable is its ability to return to its original structure and shape once a stress is removed, all without substantial deformation. This remarkable characteristic stems from nitinol’s reversible solid-state phase transformation, known as martensitic transformation. Nitinol is also highly biocompatibile, resisting corrosion in the human body, and has been proven safe in vascular, soft tissue and orthopedic applications.
Due to its superelasticity and shape memory, nitinol is widely used in the medical industry to make collapsible cardiac stents, orthopedic implants and surgical wires used to locate tumors. Because of its biocompatibility, nitinol wire is often used in implantable surgical devices and endodontic and dental instruments (e.g. nitinol files used during root canals).
In the aerospace industry, nitinol is used in robotically controlled instruments, flight control panels, aircraft landing gear and thermal actuated controls. In the energy industry, nitinol is used in temperature controlled safety systems. Nitinol is also widely used in general industries for manufacturing eye glass frames, robotics, household appliances and fire sprinkler systems.
Nitinol contains inclusions (as do all metals). Different manufacturers produce nitinol with significant differences in metallurgical properties, all of which can result in considerable variability in the material’s ability to be machined. End users should be aware of this variability, and make informed decisions about who handles this valuable but technically challenging alloy.
More than twenty years ago, the expert machinists at Confluent Maine were some of the first in the industry to drill nitinol bars. Despite the fact that nitinol is a demanding alloy to work with and drill, Confluent Maine has developed reliable techniques, allowing us to provide custom nitinol tubing for redrawing, featuring extremely tight concentricity specifications.