MachinePix Weekly #59

Titanium versus magnesium implants. The most popular post this week was a giant truck tipper 🚛

Someone close to me broke their femur and required an emergency orthopedic implant, which is why this newsletter is two weeks delayed. It did however give me an excuse to read up on implant technology in the hospital waiting room, and I was sucked into the rabbit hole of the material science involved.

While the implant in question was titanium, there is no strictly dominant material for orthopedic implants, and a lot of tradeoffs between material properties, biocompatibility, and cost—this makes sense when you think about it, because the inside of a body is a pretty hostile environment: it’s damp and filled with corrosive organic compounds.

The most surprising implant material to me was Vitamin E Infused Polyethylene. The vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to absorb free radicals released during the cross-linking of the polyethylene to improve survivability in the body—which makes me wonder about the unpleasant trial-and-error results that must have led to the vitamin E infusion.

Beyond material science, the fields of architected materials (materials whose properties are defined by both geometry and material) and metamaterials (engineered materials with properties that do not naturally occur) both feel like they hold a lot of potential for pushing orthopedic implants beyond “fix” applications into superhuman territories. Anyone want to bet on when the first mass-produced elective orthopedic implant will become available?

The most popular post this week was a truck tipper, which reminded me of the various rail dumpers that have made previous appearances.

I’m always looking for interesting people to interview, have anyone in mind?


The Week in Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you could run an entire account like @machinepix on only rail machines.

Modern phones with LIDAR and optical 3D sensors are a huge boon for scientists. Check out the LeafByte app for measuring leaf area, and the PlantNet app for identifying plants in the wild.

Different solar panel cleaners have been posted before. I wonder if we’ll ever achieve a materials breakthrough that makes dust less likely to adhere?


If you enjoyed this newsletter, forward it to friends (and interesting enemies). I am always looking to connect with interesting people and learn about interesting machines—reach out.