At Sandvik, ultra-fine wire - thinner than a human hair - is manufactured. This is used in medical technology components that both save and improve people's lives - and contribute to more efficient healthcare.
“It's easy to go to work when I think about that. And it is of course great that the products we develop make a real difference in people's lives,” says Tom Eriksson, Head of Strategic Research at Sandvik Materials Technology.
Tom Eriksson has a Ph.D. in materials chemistry at Uppsala University, Sweden and has worked as a guest researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California.
“We have a long innovative tradition at Sandvik. It has to do with our culture, I believe. We do not have to be afraid to question and be questioned. The creative vein is given space to develop,” says Tom.
Today, Tom is responsible for both the research laboratories and the long-term research portfolio. One Sandvik product is medical wire components that are found in, for example, glucose monitors, catheters, pacemakers, and hearing implants. The finest strands are thinner than a human hair.
Human and socio-economic benefit
More than three million people in the world live with pacemakers and each year more than one million new pacemakers are implanted. Sandvik is one of the companies that supplies products to the major manufacturers of pacemakers around the world. The fatigue strength, i.e. how long the product lasts before it breaks down, is a key factor in general for steel products, but especially important for medical components from a health perspective.
“Take a medical metal wire that is inside the body, for example. It’s exposed to a very tough environment in terms of corrosion and fatigue as the body's own fluids are hard on the components. In order to get the right properties, it’s above all necessary that the alloy has an extremely high purity and it already gets that in the manufacturing process at the steelworks,” Tom explains.
“With our high-quality products, we can help shorten the patient's time in the hospital, extend the time between hospital visits, and make the patient feel safe. This is very important,” says Tom.
“There are good reasons why our customers return year after year. Our products are of very high quality. One of the most important properties is the purity of the alloys, something we achieve by having control over the entire production chain. There is an enormous competence in the company and a commitment and a will to make our products better and better”, Tom concludes.