Electroplating Innovation Used to Enhance Braided Catheters

Electroplating Innovation Used to Enhance Braided Catheters

Posted in MPO Magazine – Online Exclusives – By Ross Peterson, Marketing Project Manager, ProPlate | February 19, 2016



Process increases the device’s pushability and torque-to-failure, while also offering kink resistance.


Electroplating is an additive manufacturing process that can be employed to manufacture medical devices used in numerous procedures. It is achieved by building metal layers that measure as thin as 0.000003 in. at a very slow rate. It is performed by submerging parts in a series of liquid solutions. The process is used to coat metal parts with another metal, and in some instances, plastic parts with a layer of metal. Commonly, these immersions incorporate one or more cleaning processes, an activation step where the base material of the part is stripped of its oxygen molecules, and an electroplating step in which the part is electrically charged to attract and attach metal atoms that are dissolved in the plating solution.


Braided Catheter Enhancements
A recent discovery by electroplating experts from ProPlate (Anoka, Minn) has proven that plating can be used to coat the surface of a braided catheter, which locks the braid intersections together as one. The function of this patented invention is known as Torq-Lok. With an uncoated braid assembly, relative slip of braid strand across braid strand absorbs a large amount of the input forces, robbing the catheter assembly of force transmission efficiency. Through the atomically bonded application of Torq-Lok, the individual strands become monocoque, eliminating the loss of energy through relative slip of strand across strand. The metal coating essentially acts like a weld at each pic crossing.

ProPlate determined that the Torq-Lok process enhances torque transmission of the braid without the sacrifice of its flexibility or significantly increasing braid dimensional profile, and helps improve its placement accuracy. It increases the device’s pushability and torque-to-failure, while also offering kink resistance. In addition, it helps to control radial forces. This metal coating innovation also minimizes elongation of the braid. From a manufacturer’s perspective, the utilization of this technology can allow the catheter design to be less complex, while still achieving the same or improved results. Further, for manufacturers, there is an elimination of cut-end unraveling due to the braids being locked.

Benefits to Users
For surgeons, patients, and hospitals, Torq-Lok can result in greater device control with more accurate placement of self-expanding stents or heart valves, and potentially less time to complete the procedure, therefore minimizing impact and risk while reducing costs.

Plating Consideration on the Front-End of a Design
Historically, electroplating has been an afterthought in many instances regarding the design of medical devices. However, recent brainstorming between electroplating engineers and medical device experts have resulted in the invention of new innovations for this additive manufacturing technology. This illustrates the importance of implementing a plating professional’s design input on the front end of a project.

ProPlate will be exhibiting at the 2016 MedTechWorld BioMedDevice show in Boston, April 13-14. To learn more about the company’s catheter coating innovations, see them at Booth #155.

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