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UC Awarded $3 Million from State of Ohio for Improvement of Biomedical Devices


The Third Frontier Wrights Project award supports development and commercialization of laser shock peening technology that will strengthen certain materials, such as the titanium alloy rods used in spinal implant devices.

Date: 5/29/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Dan Davenport

UC ingot   The University of Cincinnati has been awarded $3 million to develop and commercialize laser shock peening (LSP) technology for biomedical components in the shorter term and a broader range of industries in the longer term. The LSP surface-treatment process leads to improvements in fatigue strength, life and resistance to cracks in different materials.

“This project, ‘Ohio Center for Laser Shock Processing for Advanced Materials and Devices,’ which is focused at the intersection of two of the five Wright Projects thrust areas  — namely, advanced materials and biomedical devices — will be fantastic for our students, the College of Engineering, UC and Cincinnati State!” says Vijay Vasudevan, a professor in the College of Engineering's Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, and the lead of the project..

Laser shock peening (LSP) is an advanced surface treatment process that generates deep compressive residual stresses through laser-induced shockwaves and thereby leads to improvements in the fatigue strength, life and resistance to crack propagation in materials and parts by a factor of three to five times over that provided by conventional peening treatments. The aerospace industry, especially GE Aviation, has been successfully using this technology to enhance the fatigue life and reliability of titanium alloy fan and compressor blades in aircraft turbine engines. UC has been conducting funded research for the past four years to develop a fundamental understanding of the LSP process mechanisms, associated materials behavior, non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and modeling and simulations to apply this technology to aerospace components operating at ambient and higher temperatures.

Professor Vijay Vasudevan, College of Engineering.
Professor Vijay Vasudevan, College of Engineering.

A key component to this project, titanium alloy rods are being treated with the LSP process for stronger, longer-lasting spinal implant devices. The project is a collaboration among X-Spine Systems Inc., LSP Technologies Inc., UES Inc. and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.

"In the short term, we will be applying the LSP technology for the first time to enhance the performance and reliability of spinal implants, a natural application given that implant components are made from the same titanium alloys used in aero engines, and thereby helping to develop new, high-value products manufactured and commercialized in Ohio, with the creation of new jobs and enhanced economic growth," says Vasudevan. "X-spine Systems, our main collaborator who will lead the commercialization effort, is one of the leading companies in Ohio that manufactures and markets spinal implants. The capital equipment acquired from the project funds will help upgrade our facilities to world-class technology. In the long term, the center will help proliferate the application of LSP technology to a wider range of components in the orthopedic field as well as other industries through expanded funded research. It will also develop education and training programs to produce the best-trained technical workforce of the 21st century in engineering and production.”

"This is a truly multidisciplinary project, requiring a team effort and talents, expertise and perspectives in diverse areas, including materials science and engineering; processing science and technology; modeling and simulations; NDE; biomedical engineering and devices; and commercialization, which we are very fortunate to have," Vasudevan adds. 

Joining Vasudevan in the Ohio Center for Laser Shock Processing for Advanced Materials and Devices from UC are

  • Professor S.R. "Manny" Mannava, Chemical and Materials Engineering Department (who joined UC in 2005 after retiring from GE)
  • Associate Professor Dong Qian, Mechanical Engineering Department
  • Professor Peter Nagy, Aerospace Engineering Department
  • Professor Jai A. Sekhar, Chemical and Materials Engineering Department
  • Dorothy Air, associate vice president for Entrepreneurial Affairs

The non-UC collaborators are

  • David L. Kirschman, MD, CEO, and Leonora Felon, biomedical engineer, X-Spine Systems, Inc., Dayton 
  • David F. Lahrman, director, Business Development, LSP Technologies, Inc., Dublin OH 
  • Youhai Wen, scientist, UES, Inc., Dayton 
  • David Simmermon, instructor, Center for Innovative Technologies, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

The Ohio Third Frontier Wright Projects Program provides grants to support specifically defined near-term commercialization projects requiring major capital acquisitions and improvements at Ohio colleges and universities and nonprofit research institutions. Projects must involve one or more Ohio companies and be in the areas of advanced materials; advanced/alternative energy; instruments, controls and electronics; biomedical; and advanced propulsion.