That combination of familiarity and reactivity, Sealy said, makes magnesium a prime candidate to become the primary ingredient in dissolvable screws, plates and other medical implants that could eliminate follow-up surgeries or a lifetime of aches during snowstorms.
To reinforce magnesium against the rigors of the body long enough to serve as an implant, Sealy began experimenting with a technique called laser shock peening as a graduate student.
The laser shock peening helped magnesium withstand initial corrosion tests so well that Sealy began thinking of his dissertation results as "lake-house data, because it was so good that I was going to commercialize the technology and buy a lake house off those results."
"This is a bit depressing.But that was a big motivation for me to come to Nebraska.I realized that if I were to control the degradation of these implants, not just on the surface, but throughout the life cycle of the device, I would need a 3d metal printer for me to print these magnesium implants."
Not all 3d printers can do that.He needs to be exposed to technology that is just starting to emerge. Nebraska Engineering offered him the opportunity to help direct its purchase of three state-of-the-art 3-D printers.
Ultimately, Sealy said, tis print-perforation method could help him design and build magnesium implants that degrade at different rates in the body.One type of clavicular plate or kneecap may degrade within a year, while another may dissolve within three to five years.