Testing and Tribology

How Were Designs Tested for Wear, Strength, and Kinematics?
  • Peter S. Walker


When the first artificial knees were invented, almost no testing methods were available. The first tests were related to friction, lubrication, and wear (tribology). The tests consisted of measuring the friction between the sliding surfaces and the wear produced over multiple cycles. The earliest test methods applied to the mechanics of artificial knee design were to measure the laxity and stability in loaded and unloaded conditions. The tests used standard loading machines, with special fixtures added. The next goal was to study the fixation of components. Tests ranged from simple loading conditions where the interface micromotions were measured to multichannel machines for comparing the fixation of different tibial component designs mounted in bone specimens. The basic data on the forces in the knee during activities, available from 1970, was a major benefit in all of the testing. This is particularly the case for knee simulators for measuring the long-term wear. The initial machines were single channel, but the first multichannel machines, developed in the 1990s, were needed for practical wear testing. The Oxford Knee Rig has been useful for studying kinematics and forces, while robots have been used mainly for studying ligament behavior. Tests are essential to design, and the FDA requires specific tests to gain approval for clinical application.


Wear of knees Friction of knees Laxity testing Constraint tests Fixation testing Interface micromotion Knee simulator Forces in the knee Oxford test rig Robot knee testing ASTM standards 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter S. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopedic SurgeryNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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