Crack growth in medical-grade silicone and polyurethane ether elastomers

Feras Adnan Alnaimat, Karl Dearn, Duncan Shepherd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
298 Downloads (Pure)


One major problem with ball and socket artificial discs is the migration of wear particles to the surrounding tissues. This debris can cause inflammation that can lead to implant loosening. Encapsulating the artificial disc with an elastomer sheath, could prevent this problem by retaining the wear particles within the disc. The encapsulation sheath will face millions of tensile cycles during the implant life and, therefore, it must have the ability to withstand large strains without fracture. Using cyclic displacement, crack nucleation was applied on dumbbell specimens and crack growth was applied on rectangular specimens with an initial crack. Both tests were performed on Silex silicone and polyurethane ether
elastomer specimens, both with a Shore durometer hardness of 40 shore A. No samples completely failed during the crack nucleation tests after five million cycles. The polyurethane ether elastomer showed a slower rate of crack growth life (421k cycles to reach 70 mm crack length) than silicone elastomer (221k cycles to reach the same crack length) in the control group. Accelerated ageing decreased the hardness and the crack growth rate of the polyurethane elastomer but had the opposite effect for the silicone elastomer. Gamma sterilization increased the crack growth rate and did not affect the hardness of the polyurethane elastomer. The hardness and the crack growth rate of the
silicone elastomer were increased after gamma sterilization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-234
JournalPolymer Testing
Early online date5 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Accelerated ageing
  • Crack growth
  • Crack nucleation
  • Gamma sterilization
  • Polyurethane ether and Silicone elastomers


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