Tribological and mechanical properties of compliant bearings for total joint replacements
The tribology of a wide range of designs of compliant layer acetabular cups has been evaluated using a simulator. The simulator applied a dynamic load of 2 kN and a sinusoidal motion of ±25 , and measured the frictional resistance directly. In general the friction developed in these joints was extremely low, with friction factors typically below 0.01. When the experimental results were compared with theoretical estimates of friction a poor correlation was found. Further analysis suggested that the design of compliant layer acetabular cups was insensitive to many of the parameters suggested by theory. In particular, the radial clearance and femoral head size were not found to be critical. In addition, methods were proposed and their effectiveness demonstrated to measure friction at the on-set of motion (start-up friction), and the steady state friction in realistic compliant layer knees. The adhesion between compliant layers and a rigid backing have been investigated, with the aim of developing a good bond between them. The peel test was used to demonstrate an excellent diffusion bond between a low modulus medical grade polyurethane, and a similar high modulus grade of polyurethane. The processing conditions used to manufacture the test piece were optimised to maximise the bond strength. The bond was found to be stable after immersion in Ringers solution at 37 C for 52 weeks, and after acetabular cups were subjected to 14 million 4 kN loading cycles. A six station knee wear simulator was designed and commissioned. The simulator applied a dynamic load and an anterior-posterior translation individually to each station, as well as a flexion-extension motion common to all six stations. The simulator was computer controlled entirely using servo hydraulics. Wear rates were obtained from tests lasting up to 8 million cycles conducted on UHMWPE joints.