Long-term elastic durability of polymer matrix composite materials after repeated steam sterilization

Alexander C.M. Chong, Gustav Fischer, Bradley R. Dart, Paul H. Wooley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compared the durability of 3 different selected composite materials that underwent repeated steam sterilization with the durability of traditional metal materials. Composite materials Tepex, CFR-PPS (carbon-fiber-reinforced polyphenylene sulfide), and HTN-53 (Zytel HTN53G50HSLR NC010) were evaluated for durability and water retention after repeated steam sterilization. These composites were compared with stainless steel and aluminum. The structural properties of these materials were measured (short-beam load-to-failure and cyclic compression loading tests) before, during, and after repeated steam sterilization. The relative radiographic density of these materials was also compared. There was no significant difference in the moisture retention of these composite materials before and after repeated sterilization. The composite materials were significantly more radiolucent than the metals. For all the composite materials, load to failure deteriorated after repeated sterilization. The cyclic compression loading tests showed HTN-53 had the poorest performance, with complete failure after 400 cycles of repeated sterilization. CFR-PPS performed slightly better, with 33% failure at final testing. Tepex had no failures at final testing. Although HTN-53 has shown promise in other orthopedic applications, its performance after repeated sterilization was relatively poor. Tepex showed the most potential for durability after repeated sterilization. Further study is needed to identify specific applications for these materials in the orthopedic industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E427-E433
JournalAmerican journal of orthopedics (Belle Mead, N.J.)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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