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The Best Radiolucent Composite Materials

Thermoset composites provide properties that are competitive with traditional metals for devices that require transparency to x-rays.

Modern x-ray capabilities and designs were initially limited by the number of materials with acceptable radiolucency. To fill this void, Franklin Fibre developed thermoset plastics with high mechanical strengths, electrical insulating properties and improved degree of radiolucency.

Advances in x-ray equipment with lower levels of radiation spurred the need for new insulating materials to further improve device performance and refine treatment. Two traditional composite materials, paper-phenolic (Lamitex XXRK-1) and glass-epoxy (Lamitex G-11) offer a good alternative to titanium, aluminum, and carbon fiber that- to a degree-are radiopaque or obstruct x-rays. The cost of carbon fiber and material processing can substantially affect the price of the finished machine. Relative to radiolucent composites, it is important to consider Lamitex composites for the purpose of reducing cost. They offer expanded design options and are comparatively easier to machine.

A number of device applications—including halos, nail guides, x-ray equipment accessories, among others—demand both the physical properties of metals and the radiolucency of plastics. To meet new engineering challenges, medical manufacturers are turning toward radiolucent structural materials, which are transparent to x-rays and provide the necessary mechanical performance for the structural components used in surgical equipment. These materials can provide mechanical properties competitive with those of some metals, for example; at 1.5 mm thick Lamitex grade G-11 boasts a flexural moduli of 20.7 GPa 

Lamitex XXRK-1 is a black paper-phenolic composite with a melamine cover on one side for cosmetic applications. For more information on the technical data of this material, check out our datasheet. All Lamitex grades are unaffected by moisture and sterilization processes common with this application. 

Lamitex G-11 can be custom molded in angle, rod and rectangular tube configurations. It is also manufactured as convolute wound tubes up to 1220 mm. G11 is typically used in general-purpose applications because of the good balance they provide between mechanical performance and cost competitiveness with carbon fiber.  

Lamitex PK-100- a Kevlar®-phenolic- exhibits a good combination of high-performance properties, including temperature and chemical resistance, dimensional stability, toughness, strength, impact and chemical resistance. 

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