The researchers say that the metallic glass coating reduces pain when the needle is inserted and also improves the performance of the needle. According to researchers, metallic glass has certain properties that reduce the friction associated with the surface of the needle. Friction between the surface of the needle and the skin or other living tissue causes resistance, which in turn causes pain. Longer and larger needles cause more pain because the larger surface generates more friction upon insertion.
Friction doesn’t just cause pain upon when the needle is being inserted. Friction is also generated when the needle is withdrawn because typical metals have a natural surface grain. Movement in any direction causes tissue to “catch” on the surface grain.
Researchers say that applying a metallic glass coating to the needle reduces friction by 2/3rds when the needle is being inserted, and reduces friction by nearly 3/4ths when the needle is being withdrawn. In some experiments, friction was reduced by 80%.
Large-bore needles are typically lubricated because lubrication is known to reduce friction, and insertion pain. Smaller gauge needles are typically not lubricated; these needles are often used in dental procedures, suturing and other medical procedures. Metallic glass coatings could also be used to reduce friction in other non-medical applications, and are of interest to manufacturing and materials sciences engineers.
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Photo Credit: Alden Chadwick , via Flickr.com