Novel Laser Based NiTi Shape Memory Alloy Processing Protocol for Medical Device Applications
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The unique performance offerings of NiTi based shape memory alloys (SMAs), which includes the shape memory effect (SME), pseudoelasticity (PE) and biocompatibility have led to widespread acceptance of these alloys as valuable engineering materials. Over the past several decades the complex metallurgy behind the SME and PE properties has for the most part been uncovered and the design and engineering knowhow has been demonstrated; facilitating successful application of NiTi devices in numerous industries. Specifically, more mature applications in the medical industry including medical devices such as, catheters, guide wires, orthodontic arch wires, maxillofacial reconstruction implants, minimally invasive surgical tools, and arterial and gastrointestinal stents, have become common practice in modern medicine. Recently however, there has been a drive for more demanding functionality of SMAs for example to locally modify properties creating tuneable or gradient SME and PE performance. Unique processing protocols are therefore necessary to meet these demands and allow SMAs to reach their full potential in a wider range of applications. The current thesis successfully details the application of pulsed Nd:YAG laser processing along with post-processing techniques to locally tune both the SME and PE functional properties of monolithic binary NiTi wires and strip, while maintaining confidence in the retained corrosion performance and limited release of biologically harmful Ni ions. This extensive study contains three distinct parts which include: i) application of a laser induced vaporization protocol to locally embed multiple memories in a monolithic wire actuator; ii) uncovering the process, structure, and performance relationship of combined laser, cold working, and heat treatment processes; and iii) comprehensive characterization of surface characteristics and their relationship with corrosion performance and Ni ion release from laser processed material.