Compliance calibration for fatigue crack propagation testing of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene
Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) total joint replacement components under certain conditions are at risk of fatigue fracture. Thus, the fatigue crack inception/propagation resistance of UHMWPE is of interest. During fatigue crack propagation tests of UHMWPE, crack growth is often followed visually; however, this approach can be time consuming and requires that the specimen be accessible during testing. The objective of this study was to demonstrate the applicability of the compliance method for fatigue crack propagation tests of UHMWPE. We hypothesized that the standard calibration coefficients developed for metals may not be appropriate for UHMWPE and that different UHMWPE materials would require different compliance calibration coefficients. Three UHMWPE materials: sterilized (30 kGy); highly crosslinked and annealed (100 kGy, 130 °C); and highly crosslinked and remelted (100 kGy, 150 °C) were examined under ambient conditions. The results support the applicability of the compliance method for determination of crack length during fatigue crack propagation testing of UHMWPE. As hypothesized, the standard calibration coefficients were found to be inaccurate for UHMWPE. New UHMWPE-specific calibration coefficients were determined which predicted the crack growth behavior accurately. Also, as hypothesized, the compliance calibration coefficients for the three materials were significantly different. This is the first reported study to demonstrate the applicability of a compliance method to measure crack length in UHMWPE.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 27, Issue 27, September 2006, Pages 4693–4697