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UHMWPE for biomedical applications: performance and functionalization.

Avinash Patil, Nikhil ; Njuguna, James; Kandasubramanian, Balasubramanian


Nikhil Avinash Patil

Balasubramanian Kandasubramanian


According to a survey conducted by View Research, the market demand for medical grade UHMWPE has raise remarkably from 60.9 kilotons up to 204.8 kilotons during 2015-2024 valued at $1.36 billion (USD) with a compound annual growth rate of 15%. There are various materials available for medical implants comprising of metals, ceramics and polymers among them UHMWPE has been used widely. The wide impact of UHMWPE in medical field is due it’s superior biocompatibility, chemical resistance, low wear volume (0.68 mm3), ultimate tensile strength (41.3 MPa), low coefficient of friction [In dry condition (0.12-0.15)] and high crystallinity (more than 90%). However, wear debris, oxidative degradation due to generation of free radicals when subjected to irradiation with gamma rays and low ageing of implant are some critical problems observed in UHMWPE based implants in human body. These severe problems have been resolved using various innovative methodologies to enhance the properties of UHMWPE, comprising of surface modification techniques for pure UHMWPE as well as composite reinforced UHMWPE. The enhancement in properties of pure UHMWPE is achieved using electron beam or atmospheric cold plasma treatment. The reinforced composites are majorly developed by reinforcement of materials such as hydroxyapatite, Multi walled carbon nanotubes, Vitamin E (α-tocopherol), graphene oxide, DLC films, Gallic acid and Dodecyl gallate along with base UHMWPE matrix material. Based on the recent studies, Comparative study of these functionalization techniques along with the ameliorated surface or bulk properties along with it’s diverse application in medical implant fields (Total hip arthroplasty, joint implants, bone tissue engineering) has been discussed extensively. Descriptive study of pure UHMWPE along with it’s composite to functionalize the properties of the medical implants has been included in this review along with it’s future scope succeeding the review.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 15, 2020
Journal European Polymer Journal
Print ISSN 0014-3057
Electronic ISSN 1873-1945
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 125
Article Number 109529
Institution Citation AVINASH PATIL, N., NJUGUNA, J. and KANDASUBRAMANIAN, B. 2020. UHMWPE for biomedical applications: performance and functionalization. European polymer journal [online], 125, article ID 109529. Available from:
Keywords UHMWPE; Biocompatibility; Tribological properties; Composites; Total hip arthroplasty; Joint implants; Bone tissue engineering; Medical applications