A new generation of clear plastic orthodontic brackets features integrated nanoparticles that increase the strength of the material without sacrificing transparency.
The material is being developed by researchers from Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) in collaboration with private company CEOSA-EuroOrtodoncia. The concept for the research came from the fact that clear brackets are esthetic, but wear down quickly due to the forces they face in a patient’s mouth. The new material features alumina nanoparticles that are evenly dispersed in a polysulfone polymer matrix, according to a press release from UC3M.
The patented production process creates a material that is rigid and demonstrates good abrasion resistance without sacrificing the transparency of the polysulfone. The key breakthrough to this development was the ability to inject the nanoparticles into the material evenly and in small amounts.
Read the full press release below.
Nanoparticles to enhance the transparency of the orthodontic brackets
Researchers at the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) collaborate with the company CEOSA-EuroOrtodoncia in developing a new generation of clear plastic brackets with nanoparticles that increase endurance and improve material properties.
The brackets transparent plastic polymers used in corrective dental braces have worked very well in recent years, especially involving aesthetic improvement over the metal, but also presents problems of wear in the mouth. "We estimate the force that the teeth make on the bracket and we thought that nanotechnology could be useful to solve this issue," says John Baselga, head of Polymers and Composites group of UC3M. The solution we have devised is to use very hard nanoparticles of alumina and disperse evenly in the polysulfone polymer matrix CEOSA-EuroOrtodoncia used for the industrial manufacture of the brackets.
This new process, patented by the company along with researchers from the UC3M, manages to obtain a material with higher strength and wear while maintaining transparency. "With this technology we have developed a material that is more rigid and has a remarkably better abrasion resistance and therefore is more resistant to wear from the teeth or food in the chewing process," explains Prof. Baselga. Moreover, it is biocompatible, which is essential when you will be placed in the mouth and meets European standards for products that will be in contact with food.
This new class of materials - plastics nanoreforzados - find applications in various fields of industry, researchers say. Specifically, polysulfone is interesting in the biomedical area for its biocompatibility in medical and surgical equipment developments, which is necessary to improve the rigidity and abrasion resistance. Furthermore, also finds potential applications in the automotive industry or in the security field, for example in the development of new viewers in the fire helmets.
This innovation allows incorporation and uniform dispersion of nanoparticles in a polymer matrix to very low proportion. After this process based on green chemistry techniques that perform UC3M researchers in the company EuroOrtodoncia CEOSA-dispersed particles and mixed with the polymer by micro-extrusion techniques and micro-injection to make the final piece. "We dosificamos the plastic as normal machines that can inject the minimum is about 15 grams, when our pieces can weigh 0.06 grams ... would be something like trying to inject insulin with a horse syringe", illustrates the company director , Albert Cervera. "And with the technology we are using, the micro-micro-extrusion and injection, we can control very precisely these tiny amounts of material," he adds.
The relationship between UC3M and CEOSA / EuroOrtodoncia leverages synergies between the public and private sectors. "We are an SME and we rely on the University to have a top product, which then reverts agreements do for more than a decade as final year projects, dissertations or joint research programs in the scope of the European Union or the Community of Madrid, for example, "describes Albert Cervera. "We learn a lot from this collaboration - adds Juan Baselga - from the company because we face the real problems they face in their industrial area and they open their labs to our needs." Patents and the resulting innovative application are clear example of the transfer of knowledge and technology that promotes UC3M through its Science Park. One hundred twenty five research groups and laboratories working to make innovation possible. All this, together with a technology portfolio itself, show all the capabilities of collaboration between the university and the company, industry and institutions.
Source: Universidad Carlos III of Madrid