Medical engineering

Innovations for the patient

Research activities in medical engineering focus on the development of new methods and products for reducing surgical risks and for improving the clinical outcome, e.g. longer implant life. The integration and application of new materials and technologies is imperative in this context. Adaptive materials such as nickel-titanium alloys have already shown how much potential lies in innovative materials. Currently, vascular surgery relies heavily on superelastic stents (vessel supports). Additionally, there is even more potential in these adaptive materials. Future implants will possess new functionalities and will contribute to meeting the numerous challenges in surgery. Modern diagnostic processes for intraoperative navigation or pre-operative planning will support the surgeon in complex surgeries and in selecting appropriate implants. Furthermore, they will contribute to a higher treatment quality.

In close collaboration with hospitals, university medical centers, research institutions and manufacturers of medical products Fraunhofer IWU develops solutions along the entire value-added chain, from the first idea up to technological implementation of novel components and systems.

Implants and surgical instruments

  • Patient-specific implants
  • Implants with internal functional cavities
  • Micromanufacturing processes for producing implants
  • Using active materials for adaptive implant systems and surgical instruments
  • Surgical instruments with integrated sensors

Project examples or ongoing projects:

  • Titanium implants
  • Implants with internal channels and cavities
  • Therapy device for treating scoliosis in children
  • Middle ear prosthesis – micromanufacturing process for implant production
  • Adaptive components for medical engineering - pedicle screw
  • Surgical shape memory suction devices
  • Forming of medical titanium materials
  • Sensor technology for medical applications
  • Self-sensing actuator

Further application examples

  • Adaptive hip stem
  • Skull implant
  • Stents
  • Textile structures
  • Urine diagnostics
  • Spinal cage
  • Dental bridge
  • Surgical spreader
  • Endoprostheses and exoprostheses, instruments
  • Design, simulation
  • Application of conventional and active materials
  • Material models

Biomechanics, metrology and sensors

  • Biomechanical investigations on structures of bone and tissue
  • Implant testing as basis for developments
  • Intraoperative measuring processes

Project examples or ongoing projects:

  • Biomechanical investigations
  • Implant testing as basis for developments
  • Measuring system for leg length
  • Surgical technology using lightweight construction
  • Testing human pelvic bone

Therapies and orthotics

  • Adaptive composite structures for orthotics
  • Devices for physical therapies

Project examples or ongoing projects:

  • Optimization of acetabular revision implant for artificial hip joints
  • Active material composites to ensure anchorage of the implants

  • Increasing life expectancy leads to new requirements regarding methods of diagnosis, therapies and associated technologies
  • High expectations concerning endoprostheses and exoprostheses
  • Reduction of surgical risks
  • Increase of implant life by integrating and applying new materials and technologies
  • Reducing cost for patients and health care system by applying innovative concepts


  • Characterization of structural mechanics
  • Biomechanical characterization
  • Processes of measuring and testing


  • Design
  • Simulation
  • Application of active materials

Manufacturing technologies

  • Additive manufacturing: patient-specific structured implants
  • Precision manufacturing and micromanufacturing: microimplants, medical instruments
  • Surface technology
  • Bulk metal forming: resource-efficient series production
  • Hot embossing
  • Functional lightweight construction and metal foam: bionic approach, bone replacement

Links to related research domains

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Precision manufacturing and micromanufacturing
  • Bulk metal forming
  • Microforming
  • Functional lightweight construction and metal foam

Basic equipment of microbiology laboratory

  • Climate test chamber -42 °C / +180 °C
  • Cooling unit and freezing unit
  • Autoclave
  • Preparation table
  • Fume hood
  • Cutting table
  • Low-vibration test station
  • Visualization hardware and work station

Mechanical testing

  • Materials testing machine for tension, compression and torsion: combined tests up to 10 kN and 200 Nm; temperature chamber -40 °C – 200 °C; media bath; static and cyclic tests up to approx. 1 Hz
  • Tension-compression testing machine: tests up to 20 kN; temperature chamber -80 °C – 250 °C
  • Servo pneumatic tension-compression testing machine; tests up to 20 kN; cyclic tests up to 30 Hz; tension testing machine Zwick/Roell
  • Tekscan 471 x 471 mm: system for analyzing pressure distribution

Optical testing

  • GOM PONTOS: dynamic detection of dynamic or quasi-static movements / deformations, e.g. for creating movement models
  • GOM TRITOP Deformation: portable, optical 3D coordinate measuring machine
  • Thermographic analysis (128 x 96 pixels) within a temperature range from 10 °C to 350 °C
  • LEA O2C: diagnostic tool for determining circulation parameters
  • Polytec PSV4003D: 3D laser scanning measuring system for determining dynamic properties of components, e.g. for verifying numerical models
  • Microcomputer tomography
  • Inspection technology and software

Design, modeling and simulation

  • 64bit multicore computation server with solid state drives
  • ANSYS: calculations of structural mechanics
  • FEMTools: calculations, comparison and optimization of structural mechanics
  • CATIA, Pro|Engineer, Autodesk Inventor: design
  • AnyBody: calculation of structural mechanics, e.g. for implant-bone interface
  • TOSCA: structural optimization of mechanically loaded components
  • Comsol Multiphysics: mechanical, thermal and acoustic simulation of structure and flow
  • 3-matic: implant construction based on CT data, processing of FEA and CFD, CAE post-processing

Topology and morphology

  • Mimics: Segmenting data of CT/MRI
  • VG Studio Max: 3D analysis for evaluating µCT data sets

Visualization and segmenting

  • GE v|tome|x s 240 high-resolution computed tomograph: microfocus tube 240 kV / 15W, nanofocus tube 180 kV / 320 W, 420 mm x Ø 260 mm maximum probe size, 2D / 3D inspection
  • Scanning electron microscope using EDX