Miniature specimen shear punch test for UHMWPE used in total joint replacements
Despite the critical role that shear is hypothesized to play in the damage modes that limit the performance of total hip and knee replacements, the shear behavior of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) remains poorly understood, especially after oxidative degradation or radiation crosslinking. In the present study, we developed the miniature specimen (0.5 mm thickness×6.4 mm diameter) shear punch test to evaluate the shear behavior of UHMWPE used in total joint replacement components. We investigated the shear punch behavior of virgin and crosslinked stock materials, as well as of UHMWPE from tibial implants that were gamma-irradiated in air and shelf aged for up to 8.5 years. Finite element analysis, scanning electron microscopy, and interrupted testing were conducted to aid in the interpretation of the shear punch load–displacement curves. The shear punch load–displacement curves exhibited similar distinctive features. Following toe-in, the load–displacement curves were typically bilinear, and characterized by an initial stiffness, a transition load, a hardening stiffness, and a peak load. The finite element analysis established that the initial stiffness was proportional to the elastic modulus of the UHMWPE, and the transition load of the bilinear curve reflected the development of a plastically deforming zone traversing through the thickness of the sample. Based on our observations, we propose two interpretations of the peak load during the shear punch test: one theory is based on the initiation of crystalline plasticity, the other based on the transition from shear to tension during the tests. Due to the miniature specimen size, the shear punch test offers several potential advantages over bulk test methods, including the capability to directly measure shear behavior, and quite possibly infer ultimate uniaxial behavior as well, from shelf aged and retrieved UHMWPE components. Thus, the shear punch test represents an effective and complementary new tool in the armamentarium of miniature specimen mechanical testing methods for UHMWPE used in total joint replacement components.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 23, Issue 9, May 2002, Pages 1907–1919