Infoscience

Journal article

Load sensing surgical instruments

Force and pressure sensing technology applied to smart surgical instruments as well as implants allow to give a direct feedback of loads to the surgeon lead to better reliability and success of surgical operations. A common technology used for sensors is low-cost piezoresistive thick-film technology. However, the standard thick-film firing conditions degrade the properties of medical alloys. In order to avoid this problem, the solution is to decrease the firing temperature of thick films. This work presents the development and characterisation of low-firing thick-film systems (dielectrics, resistors and conductors), formulated to achieve chemical and thermal expansion compatibility with an austenitic stainless steel medical alloy. Adherence tests and results on electrical properties of these systems: resistance, temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR) are presented. It was found that the main issue in these systems lies in mastering the materials interactions during firing, especially at the silver-based resistor terminations. The interaction of silver, resistor and dielectric tends to give rise to highly resistive zones at the terminations, affecting reliability. This can be circumvented by post-firing the resistor terminations at a moderate temperature.

Related material