Technology always greatly impacts medicine due to demographic changes and the associated socioeconomic challenges to the healthcare system.

Innovations through customisation in medical technology are necessary to maintain the current high standard. Musculoskeletal diseases such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis are among the top five diseases in old age. That is why the Karl Landsteiner University of Health Sciences in Krems has established the Department for Biomechanics and equipped a biomechanics laboratory with testing technology from Zwick.

Implant strength

A loss in bone mass and a heightened risk of falling leads to an increase in fractures in old age. Various implant systems are used to treat this, and a good design is a guarantee for successful treatment.

Simulation methods from the automotive and aerospace industries are being adapted and used as tools. Biomechanical laboratory tests for validating these simulations, the discovery of new fracture mechanisms, and the examination of complex systems such as implants are also of crucial importance.

The idea behind implant strength is broad. Measuring static strengths under tensile, compression, and flexure loading with universal testing machines determines primary stability to obtain information about possible loosening or growth behavior. Testing the bone material, and performing time-dependent creep tests and stress relaxation tests, as well as measuring the pull-out strength of fixation elements, are also possible with such machines.

In addition to static tests, determining fatigue strengths subject to oscillating loads in implant systems is necessary for the testing of in-vivo loads.

Servo-hydraulic or new electrodynamic testing systems are used for this. These biomechanical test methods deliver a wide range of force displacement data, which is essential in determining the strength of implants.

At the KL in Krems, two Zwick testing systems are used, one 30kN universal testing machine (Z030) and one 5kN electrodynamic test fixture (LTM 5). Zwick has comprehensive experience in implant testing and was able to use this pragmatically during the selection process of the laboratory equipment. Thanks to intelligent components, both standard-compliant and customized tests can be performed.

Innovative biomechanical tests

More detailed and accurate measurement data is required to develop innovative, customised implants. In addition to traditional strain gauges, force, travel, and strain extensometers, new biomechanical laboratories are using optical 3D video extensometers.

Extensive strain measurement, micro-movements of the implant system, and movement studies allow for new insights into this field. The extensometers used for gathering test data can be directly integrated in the test machine software, which facilitates fast, convenient, and efficient test data acquisition.

Customised implants must also be manufactured. To support this, the KL biomechanical laboratory in Krems offers computer numerical control (CNC) production and 3D printing.

Close cooperation is necessary among the university clinics, the KL biomechanical laboratory, and companies in this sector for the innovative development of customised implants.